Is Paul Kagame a Ruthless Dictator?

President Kagame - Becoming a dictator?

Paul Kagame is the president of Rwanda. Time and again, he has been linked to assassination attempts on the country’s opposition politicians. But again this is a man who Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister is supporting for introducing good governance. The question is, has Blair been tricked into believing that Kagame is free from corruption and not guilty of political intimidation? Apparently, Kagame seems to have surrounded himself with a lethal secret service apparatus that have been accused of doing his dirty work.

Tony Blair’s good governance initiative is not only in Rwanda, but also present in Sierra Leone and recently introduced in Liberia. But unlike his Rwandan counterpart, the Sierra Leone president does not engage in political intimidation of opposition politicians. And the press in Sierra Leone enjoys unprecedented media freedom. The Sierra Leone leader is a fine example of a true statesman who enjoys worldwide acclaim for his commitment to good governance.

The differences between the two leaders are apparent. As one engages ruthless determination to quash any opposition to his barbaric rule and the other entertains opposition to improve on his credentials. Rwanda as a country, has suffered in the hands of those it entrusts with the mantle of running its state. And the people have been let down and have suffered the indignities of being treated as second class citizens by its own leaders. Millions have been killed in the quest for tribal domination, where one tribe engages in ethnic cleansing to wipe out any trace or existence of the other.

Recently, it has been revealed that Foreign security operatives were involved in the shooting of a Rwandan military officer in Johannesburg, South Africa’s foreign ministry has said. Lt Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa was wounded outside his house last month.  He had fled to South Africa earlier this year after falling out with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Rwanda has denied accusations it tried to assassinate Lt Gen Nyamwasa. Four people have been charged with his attempted murder. They are reportedly from Tanzania, Somalia and Mozambique. “It also involves a country with which we have good and strong diplomatic relations,” foreign ministry official Ayanda Ntsaluba said, refusing to name the country involved.  His wife, Rosette, said a lone gunman approached the car after the couple returned to their house from a shopping trip on Saturday 19 June. The gunman told the driver of their car to allow space so he could aim at Lt Gen Nyamwasa, she said.

Rwanda had asked South Africa to extradite both Lt Gen Nyamwasa and Patrick Karegeya, a former colonel in the Rwandan army also living in exile in South Africa. Lt Gen Nyamwasa is accused of being behind grenade attacks in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, earlier this year in which more than 30 people were injured and one person was killed. Mr Ntsaluba said the general, who has denied the grenade allegations, was seeking asylum in South Africa. “This matter involves security operatives and an attack on a person who has gone through the correct legal channels to seek asylum in South Africa,” the foreign ministry’s director general said.

A week ago, Rwandan journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage, who had been investigating the general’s case, was shot dead outside his home in Kigali. The Rwandan authorities say that two men have been arrested for that attack, which they say was a revenge killing, denying reports it was linked to the exiled general. Since arriving in South Africa, Lt Gen Nyamwasa has accused Rwanda’s leader of corruption charges Mr Kagame denies.

There have been several recent defections from the military ahead of elections due in August. Lt Gen Nyamwasa played an important role in the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Mr Kagame, which put a stop to the 1994 genocide and which is now in power. But France and Spain have issued arrest warrants against Mr Nyamwasa for his alleged role in killings in the lead-up to and during the genocide, along with other senior RPF figures.

Mr Kagame is viewed by many in the West as one of Africa’s more dynamic leaders. However critics have raised concerns about his more authoritarian tendencies and the government has recently been accused of harassing the opposition ahead of the elections. It seems there are serious lessons the Rwandan leader can learn from his Sierra Leonean counterpart, who seems to believe that good governance can only be achieved by a free press; free from any political interference, and that opposition politicians should be given a free hand in subjecting the government to accountability and criticism, albeit through the constitutional framework of the law. Although the country’s opposition SLPP party chairman, John Oponjo Benjamin, has flouted this principle time and again by holding personal-vendetta-ochestrated press conferences to voice his opinion about government policies instead of going through the legitimate parliamentary procedures, this has not limited the general freedom of expression atmosphere that exists in the country.

Rwanda need  to move on and shed its devastating past and embrace a future that embodies freedom, respect and dignity for all its people. And those who are presently engaged in running the country, should hang their heads in shame as they once more subject their people to the horrors of oppression, albeit in a different way.

© 2010, Ahmed M Kamara. All rights reserved. – The views expressed here are purely those of the author and not necessarily those of the publishers. – Newstime Africa content cannot be reproduced in any form – electronic or print – without prior consent of the Publishers. Copyright infringement will be pursued and perpetrators prosecuted.

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  1. Ruterana Epimaque

    I would like to say that in reading your article, one can see that you do not internalize issues happening in Rwanda. Without taking any side, i would like to say that the political dynamics in Rwanda should not be compared with any other country. Rwanda has its own dynamics which are highly influenced by its history and the genocide.
    You talk about wuashing the opposition in Rwanda. Are you referring to the case of Victoire Ingabire? Let me tell you that this woman who has not been in Rwanda for the last 16 years came back to Rwanda in a bid to run for the presidency. The Government didnt stop her from coming back although she was expecting to be arrested so as to make some political gains out of it. When she got to Rwanda, she went to the genocide memorial as stated that it was not showing the reality and that Hutus also were killed by Tutsis. This kind of situation should be compared to someone who goes to Yad Vashem and states that Nazis had also been killed by Jews. This is the highest level of trivializing the 1994 genocide and i am sure if it was in a western country it would have been condemned. In addition to that, this woman was mentionned by one UN report ( UN report of Experts on DRC November 2009) as supporting and associated to rwandese revisonist groups operating in Europe. Should the rwandan government keep a blind eye to all that just because she is a presidential contestant?? The world keeps on being unfair with Rwanda.
    Concerning the assassination attempt against Kayumba, his wife is the first one who came out with conclusions. I have some compassion for what happened to him, however Kayumba should not use his current position in the opposition to distort facts and look forcefully for political gains. SA police came out and talked about the culprits who have nothing to do with Rwanda. What is his wife now saying?
    Politicians in Africa have learnt to use the media for their political gains and it appears that many of you fall into that trap. Why dont u use your professionalism and check on facts instead of being flag bearers of disgruntled people who are badly dying to see the public opinion being diverted by their rhetoric?

    • Gale

      The world is not being unfair with Rwanda. They see the evil dictator called kagame who is responsible for such destruction of life and who is surrounded by his evil followers who do his dirty work. Can you possibly believe that the world does not see what is actually happening? It is transparently clear what is going on in Rwanda and as you know history will be rewritten again. It is simply a matter of time. What a tragedy that kagame can’t afford to have freedom in Rwanda. It would be a joke if it weren’t such a tragedy. Why don’t you use your professionalism and see the facts instead of aligning yourself with a butcher?!

  2. Nkuruziza Safari

    great article and its saying things most rwandans know already but because of the autocratic rule, the people are voiceless.
    Don’t worry about kagame’s sycophants like Ruterana Epimaque, they’re extremists that would go to any length to protect the ruthless dictator. As a rwandan tutsi, I’m very ashamed of the leadership in rwanda as they’re the worst since day one. They’re cold blooded killers that have been killing innocent African from Uganda to Congo DRC. All the information is in the public domain(see UN and Human rights reports) and the world is not as gullible as they want them to be. Why is that the people that brought Kagame to power(RPF officers) 90% are no longer with him either they’re locked up in secret detentions(safe houses), have been killed,have deserted him, etc,?
    Its fools like Ruterana Epimaque still in denial, still defending a know cold blooded war criminal that is responsible for rape,murder,exploitation, displacement and other evil crimes in Congo that has led to the death of 6 million innocent people.
    Paul Kagame is a ruthless dictator whose crimes are catching up with him.
    God save Africa that we don’t get another evil man like him!!

  3. kalisa anastase

    Let those who think that paul kagame is a ruthless dictator bring proofs. Let those who think he is not bring proofs. Propaganda and distortion do not help anyone. The situation in rwanda seems to be peaceful and prospering. We people who are in rwanda do not see any tension or any crisis. We only read in the foreign media about coup d etat, internal crisis, internal conflict !!! We don’t see anything bad in rwanda. One would wonder whether foreign journalists operating In western capitals are having a better access to the situation in rwanda.

  4. I think people like Ruterana do not want to admit the reality of times. they are still enclosed in that self caused massacre of 1994 and forgot that without the invasion of RPF and people like RUTERANA innocent hutus and tutsis couldnt have been killed. I knwo Ruterana very well he is among those people demobilized who have fought with I do not expect something less than what he prophesying.the killing of Habyarimana is the root of all evils happening in when you are talking about Rwandan dynamics what are u insinuating that Kayumba nyamwasa is not a tutsi like you?that he didnt fight for kagame in the so called liberation which endangered innocent tutsis?that he was not among the people who said that they wanted to kill all the people in the northern Rwanda and plant tobacco in the north of Rwanda?come on.Kagame has been killing hutus ever since 1990s now he is happy with his job for having managed to eliminate most of hutu intellectuals and framed others as genocidaires and yet the ICTR found that they was no planning or conspiracy of genocide and now he has embarked on his tutsi colleagues.I have to let you know that if Kagame does not embark on reconciliation like the one in SA of Mandela.the people of Rwanda will teach him a lesson.He is a murderer than any cruel dictator that the world has ever known

  5. ForeignerInRwanda

    It is clear that Rwanda is a small country with a small mentality.
    Unless there’s political dialogue,some kind of truth and reconciliation commission (South Africa style) or a proportional division of the country in two (a hutu land and a tutsi land like Wallony and Flanders in Belgium),another tragedy is only a matter of time.It is also clear that Kagame’s regime days are numbered I am afraid.I am neither tutsi or hutu so I am impartial here.

  6. Liliane

    I agree with Ruterana. Misinformed people should not make themselves expert in the Rwandan affairs. I live in Kigali, and am an ordinary citizen. Rwanda is one of the most peaceful country on the continent. Rwanda is developing at a pace that is indisputable and there is no other country similar to Rwanda on the continent. Rwanda is an African Miracle. Rwanda’s good governance is making it set itself from other corrupt countries in Africa. And all these, under the leadership of HE President Kagame. The author of this article should tell the truth not what he want people to believe. He for sure has some other motives, but please he should not lie to the mass. Rwanda is very much in the right path and is very much under a great leadership of PK.

  7. MrK

    ” Millions have been killed in the quest for tribal domination, where one tribe engages in ethnic cleansing to wipe out any trace or existence of the other. ”

    Is that the hart of the matter, or merely a byproduct of a larger power struggle?

    For instance, is it really a surprise that when the West helps the US trained former head of Ugandan Military Intelligence to become the President of Rwanda, that all of a sudden people, opposition leaders start disappearing and getting assasinated?

    Or that when Rwanda gets involved nothing is said, but in the case of the ‘rogue’ Zimbabwe, withdrawal from the DRC is a precondition for the lifting of economic sanctions (Section 4D of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001, S.494 of the 107th US Congress – the economic sanctions are in Section 4C, titled ‘Multilateral Financing Restriction’ and 3 ‘Definitions’)?

    I think there are a lot of questions to be asked about the specifics of the Rwandan genocide itself, for instance how the plain carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi got to be shot down, by whom and through what means. As it appears to have been the trigger for the genocide, I would say that is important.

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