or Portrait of the Country As a Young Woman
It is no secret that His Excellency President Paul Kagame has been the M.C. for Rwanda’s cotillion as the darling daughter of prominent international politicians and development venture capitalists since 1994. Sometimes, though, it has been hard to hear the swing band over former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s cries of “Mea culpa!” and bellows of “Here, here!” from U.S. Peace Corps teacher turned Wall Street philanthropist Michael Fairbanks, who is clearly drunk off the whatever the government’s bartender is serving. With Human Right’s Watch’s Kenneth Roth hissing boos from the rafters and pointing retina-burningly bright floodlights of journalistic integrity at the audience, you might have missed that waiter with the brochettes, but if you’re craving caffeine, Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz is heading this way with a tray of free espresso. A junior-high divide separates a dance floor of pundits that are usually too busy writing briefs to their editors and higher-ups back home to even notice what the guest of honor is wearing. Invited guests rhapsodize her as an exemplary new dawn for Africa, a country whose fertile valleys grow silicone and satellites, being weaned from the tit of foreign aid and learning to walk and talk independently in the global economic playground. On the other side of the gym, cotillion-crashers warn against having sympathy for the devil, decrying Daddy Kagame as a school-yard authoritarian whose left hand builds exclusive sandcastles with stolen milk-money while his right makes sure nobody knows how to tell the principal about the nature of his game. From where I stand (usually at the bar), the truth about what it is like to live in Rwanda for both Rwandans and expatriates is not a simple synthesis of this dialectic. This is a country of maddening non sequiturs and unimaginable complexity, yet everyone seems to know what’s best for her.
The first month I spent in Kigali was an interesting one for the interested. April saw the sixteenth commemoration of the genocide, the second grenade detonations in Kigali since the New Year, the first visit of Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean, the suspension of two independent newspapers, and the second arrest and public defamation of Victoire Ingabire, the leader of an opposition party in the looming presidential election.
The last few months have been no less controversial. One of the editors of the suspended newspapers was found dead in Uganda, an American lawyer that came to defend Ingabire was arrested tried to take his own life in custody, and was extradited, an exiled Rwanda general was shot in South Africa, and the vice president of an opposition party was found beheaded.
Distilling facts about the freedom of media and the political situation in Rwanda from the solution of Kagame’s masterful sophistry spin and the igno-ranting blogs of leftist NGOs requires the steady application of investigative heat and a well-calibrated thermometer for reality. From what I have seen, too often each side gives a column-length treatment and reduces the solution to a black and white issue of media freedom when there are shades of ink in-between that can begin to outline important questions: Is Rwanda on the precipice of a renaissance or a violent revolution? Does the Kagame government practice censorship and limit political space to protect its careers or its constituents?
YOUNG ADULT FRICTION
Rwanda’s adolescence in the aftermath of the genocide has been a choppy period, at times as temperate as her climate and at times liable to the prides and prejudices of a young nation trying to balance the excitement of a skyrocketing economy with shallowly repressed childhood memories of neglect and abuse. Those who haven’t stayed in touch over the years may be surprised at the changes that are happening here with epinephrinic speed.
Her economy is steadily growing taller and in unexpected places. The World Bank estimates the G.D.P. is growing between 6 – 12% since 2000 to a total of 4.5 billion U.S.D. in 2008 after bottoming out in 1994. Steep rain-fed hills produce minerals, coffee, tea, and chrysanthemum-derived insecticide and native packs of mountain gorillas and the eight lakeshore Virunga volcanos provide a girdle for a budding eco-tourism industry. Much of that wallet is an allowance, however: foreign aid pours into the country at a rate of 500 million U.S.D. per year and the World Bank, in whose September 2009 “Ease of Doing Business” report Rwanda catapulted from number 143 to number 67, just approved a poverty reduction program with a price-tag of 115 million U.S.D. Yet Rwanda remains the 12th poorest country in the world with a per capita income of $900 U.S.D.
Her vision of an independent future is clear. From a series of meetings between leaders of government, business, academia, religion, and communities in 1998 and -99 came the cornerstone initiatives of the R.P.F. government: the Gacaca system of community justice courts to prosecute genocidaires, the 2003 constitution, the forming of a National Police force, and a lucid development plan known as Vision 2020. Vision 2020‘s ambitious eyedrops include reconstruct the nation, unite its people, control population growth and mortality, develop human resources and entrepreneurship (particularly in finance, tourism, and telecommunications), modernise agriculture practices, sustainably manage natural resources, maintain internal and external peace, and integrate the economy and society into both the region and the world. Today, the government offers students that pass a qualifying exam full-ride post-secondary scholarships to the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. K.I.S.T. and the rest of Kigali will soon be connected to the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, a network of globally-connected submarine fibre optic cables that reached the Kenya’s coastal city of Mombasa last year. That residents have their choice of over-advertised mobile phone networks and banks is evidence of strides towards the privatization of communication and financial companies, though utilities like electricity and gas are still provided by parastatal monopolies. Cataracts of mist can hide the disparity between the haves and have-nots, a difference still largely a function of geography. Outside the city the poverty screams. Potholed roads slalom through hamlets overlooking acres and acres of terraced green hills, every fertile inch of which is devoted to the subsistence farming practice of Rwanda’s rural, and mostly Hutu, population. Here, there is limited access to health care and education and fragmented plots and lack of fallow are eroding soil at warning-bell rates. All considered, Kagame’s idea of a Rwanda that has the welcoming spirit of Haight-Ashbury and the income of Silicon Valley of Africa is in full blossom but has a lot of ground yet to cover.
She’s had some bad relationships in the past and worries about the temper of passionate exes that haven’t left the neighbourhood. The Forces de Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda (F.D.L.R.), the armed phoenix from the ashes of the Ex-Forces Armees Rwandaises (Ex-F.A.R.) and Interahamwe militias that carried out the genocide, are believed to be responsible for continued violence against residents and tourists in the Eastern Congo and Southern Uganda since 1994. The national military, Rwanda Defense Force (R.D.F.), is reported as the well-trained and -equipped recipient of a disproportionate share of the national budget, spending at one time justified by unstable militia-ridden borders with Uganda, the D.R.C., and Burundi but now less clearly predicated on controlling Hutu rebels and more likely motivated, according to the U.N., by occupying territory chock-full of rare metals like gold, diamond, and coltan (used in mobile phones). A thick fog of war, language, and interest prevents anyone from truly understanding the situation in the Congo: Kagame has denied all wrong doing and claims his military is streamlining its numbers, but others suggest that the government is the solid face of a shadowy parallel criminal guild of elite and extremist Tutsi bent on dehumanizing Hutus, controlling the Eastern Congo, and assassinating opposition and whistle-blowers.
She’s a little vain about her looks. The National Police recently imprisoned over nine hundred beggars, homeless, and suspected petty thieves for three years to learn skills like bricklaying, hairdressing and motorcycle maintenance.
She’ll impulse shop. February is rainy season here, and since Rwandans are pathologically hydrophobic the government decided to launder the purchase of two luxury jets through a South African company.
She hasn’t been immune to pesky rashes of international promiscuity. Misguided first dates that weren’t thought out beyond the press release include teaming with the non-profit organization One Laptop Per Child who aim to top 30 million laps of children who hunger more for carbohydrates than Wikipedia with computers by 2015.
She’s learning to articulate herself but still gets tongue-tied at times. English was recently adopted as the official language of the government and universities to ease transitions into partnerships with Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community, as well as an expression of resentment over France’s involvement in the genocide.
She has learned that popularity is addictive and keeps only agreeable company. In 2003, Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front carried the first post-genocide presidential polls with an iron majority of 95.1%. The leaders of the nine officially registered opposition parties appear to have been reduced to rubber-stamping sycophants and those who don’t genuflect are quickly excommunicated to the U.S. college lecture circuit like former Speaker of the House and author of God Sleeps In Rwanda Joseph Sebarenzi.
She’s sensitive about gossip and a chronic confabulator. His Excellency P.K. is a long sufferer of journalism paranoia and has been known to self-medicate by imprisoning editors for alleged correspondence with terrorists. The East Africa Press has exposed the three English daily papers with the widest-circulation (the Rwandan Dispatch, the Rwanda Focus, and the New Times) as entirely funded by the R.P.F. and entirely unable to tell the difference between “investigative reporting” and “government press release”.
Sometimes she confides in Christiane Amanpour that nobody in the whole damn world understands her. Appearing on CNN in March, Kagame towed his standard line of Us against Them: “You tend to make a judgment of a country, 11 million people, on what a couple of people have said and [they] don’t take into account what Rwandans say…it’s as if they [the 11 million] don’t matter in the eyes of the human rights people. It’s our own decisions in the end.”
This is more-or-less the context of the Rwanda I have inherited, but I have to be careful: as a one of the “couple people” writing about this country, I tread a high-wire between impression and the filigree of actual life here. So much meaning can be lost and found in the translation from perception to page and soon eyes from outside the human rights community will be directed at this quiet or quietly boiling country. In a week’s time, Rwanda’s eleven million people are about to begin a new paragraph of their history. Though the second presidential election since 1994 is likely not getting much action in Las Vegas – barring catastrophic upheaval, His Excellency President Paul Kagame will have a second seven-year term and the R.P.F. will see its Vision to near-fruition – having a tempered conception of the current political climate is necessary for the international community to mediate between ignoring and inciting a potentially violent storm.
The table tennis headlines of the last four months can help to contextualize the back-and-forth convictions of pundits foreign and native. I’ve tried to post links that sketch a narrative selected from the very thorough work Graham Holliday at Kigali Wire (http://kigaliwire.com/). That narrative is epically long though, but that’s sort of the point.
Here is what has been happening in Rwanda since I arrived:
5 APR 2010
Kagame accuses opposition of contempt
President Paul Kagame on Monday slammed three emerging opposition parties that plan to run against him in August elections and said they had been formed by people with contempt for Rwandans.
13 APR 2010
Umuseso and Umuvugizi newspapers suspended
“Media high council has suspended publications of the UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI local newspapers for a period of six months. The suspension stems from the current publications by the two media houses which destabilizes the peace and security of the Rwandan citizens, and defame the head of state.”
14 APR 2010
The West has no business meddling in Rwanda’s affairs
“Today, Rwanda puts to shame many African nations and some in the west.”
19 APR 2010
Lt. Gen. Muhire and Maj. Gen. Karake suspended
“Lt. Gen. Muhire was suspended due to serious charges of corruption and misuse of office while Maj. Gen. Karenzi was suspended on serious charges of immoral conduct that contravenes and undermines the values and ethos of the Rwanda Defence Force.”
21 APR 2010
Rwandan opposition leader arrested for genocide denial
“Rwandan opposition leader and presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire was arrested on Wednesday on charges of denying the 1994 genocide and “collaborating with a terrorist organisation”, an official said.”
Canadian Governor-General Michaëlle Jean expresses sorrow over inaction during Rwandan genocide
“”It is with a sense of utmost humility that I express the respects of Canada to all Rwandans who perished, suffered and who continue to suffer measurable loss in the Rwandan genocide.” Her statement was first reported as an apology, but the Prime Minister’s Office swiftly clarified to say it was an acknowledgment.”
FDU-Inkingi support committee statement on Ingabire arrest
“It is an irony and a challenge to the international community that this is happening at a time when the Governor General of Canada, a lady herself and whose government was not only at the forefront of countries that sponsored Rwanda to join the commonwealth on the grounds that it meets democratic standards and other values of that organisation, is visiting the country.”
24 APR 2010
Human Rights Watch rep denied Rwanda visa
“The Rwandan government’s decision to deny a work visa to Human Rights Watch’s representative in Kigali demonstrates a pattern of increasing restrictions on free expression in Rwanda ahead of August’s presidential elections, Human Rights Watch said today.”
Rwanda denies political crisis before August vote
“”The recent events, when bundled together, create an element of fear and panic. But, having lived in this country, and looking around these events, I don’t see many Rwandans panicking,” said government spokeswoman Louise Mushinkiwabo. “We have no doubt about the reality on the ground. Rwandans are ready to participate in the elections,” she told a news conference.”
28 APR 2010
FDLR deny link with Victoire Ingabire – AFP
“”The reality is that there is no form of collaboration between the two organisations,” the FDLR said in a statement. “Such claims serve only to sow fear, terror, disarray and tension within the organisations that are struggling against this regime, to make them lower their guard and give up,” the rebel group added.”
29 APR 2010
Preparations for World Press Freedom Day kick-off – New Times
Celebrations to mark the event are scheduled to kick-off today with a procession by all media practitioners in the country from Eto Kicukiro to Nyanza Memorial Site in Kicukiro district,in recognition of the 49 journalists who were killed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. This year’s theme is “Freedom of Information: The Right to Know”.
2 MAY 2010
Sympathy for the devil who’s ‘tightening his grip’ on us – The East African
Why not make at least a token effort to find out whether a general has fled for fear of an investigation, or another is jailed for contravening military discipline rather than make immediate assumptions about coups?
Rwanda makes “predators of freedom” watch list – BBC
Media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has named the leaders of China, Russia and Rwanda as some of the world’s worst “predators of freedom”.
3 MAY 2010
And now the good news from Rwanda – Kigali Wire
Michael Fairbanks gives a glowing review of Rwanda in the Huffington Post today along with a self-critical look at his past involvement in the aid world. His article is is one of several simultaneous pieces that appear aimed at countering a growing number of negative reports about Rwanda. Fairbanks lays out an interesting and overwhelmingly positive look at Rwanda. However, he makes at least a couple of potentially misleading claims.
5 MAY 2010
Who qualifies to judge Rwanda? asks Dr. Jean Paul Kimonyo – Huffington Post
These surveys validate the government’s strategy of a cautious and gradual shift towards confrontational politics, which critics mostly from outside would have Rwanda adopt immediately.
Media body raps French watchdog – New Times
“In the last sixteen years, I have not witnessed any RSF media project or programme in Rwanda, yet they claim to foster media development in Africa. They don’t send their researchers to Rwanda to verify their opinions but rather, they sit calmly in their newsrooms and report hearsay as truth,” Safari said.
09 MAY 2010
Kagame wins Kigali City RPF primaries – New Times
“It’s such a pleasure for us that we made the right choice. The elections were peaceful and exciting.”
11 MAY 2010
A call for Rwanda’s media to debunk falsehoods – New Times
During his monthly Presidential news conference yesterday, President Paul Kagame challenged the local journalists to set the record straight with regard to the situation of the media in the country and debunk foreign claims that government is oppressive and a media predator.
12 MAY 2010
All Is Not Well in Rwanda – New York Times Letters page
Until the country can have an open, honest discussion of the 1994 genocide and its aftermath, while building a society that respects human rights and freedoms, the risk of large-scale violence remains all too real.
Is Rwanda really unravelling? – The Independent
But do the aforementioned events suggest, even remotely, that “Rwanda is unravelling?” Bunkum! It is self evident that the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF)is in effective control of the state; that the forces of opposition are still disorganised, inarticulate, weak and incoherent. The best we can say is that they are just beginning to show signs of life.
“Rwanda is poised to be the next Las Vegas” – Forbes
With a growing hospitality industry, this African nation is poised to be the next Las Vegas.
16 MAY 10
One dead, 28 hurt in Rwanda grenade attacks – AFP
“Around 7:00 pm (on Saturday) a hand grenade exploded in the business district where 24 people were wounded and another person died,” spokesman Eric Kayiranga said. “At Nyabugogo (a Kigali district near the bus terminal), another hand grenade exploded wounding four people,”
Rwanda muzzles candidate, fearing genocide return – AP
“That’s the problem I have with this government. If you talk about ethnicity, they say you are a divisionist,” Ingabire said. “I think the better solution is you talk about it and find a solution.”
Kagame speaks exclusively on the election and Victoire Ingabire – Daily Monitor
“We have evidence, which has been brought to her attention and about 10 things she has been denying. Now she’s saying that seven of them are actually true and this has come as a result of the overwhelming evidence that was put in front of her.”
24 MAY 2010
I am not authoritarian and I have nothing to apologise for, says Kagame – Daily Monitor
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, in the second and last part of his exclusive interview with Monitor Managing Editor Daniel Kalinaki, speaks about his son joining the army, denies being authoritarian, and hints at stepping down after his next term in office.
26 MAY 2010
Lawyer heads to Kigali to defend Victoire Ingabire – YouTube
Professor Peter Erlinder flew to Kigali last Saturday 22 May to meet Ms Victoire Ingabire, an opposition leader currently under arrest on charges of denying the genocide against the Tutsi and collaborating with terrorist groups.
27 MAY 2010
Umuvugizi newspaper appeal rejected in Rwanda High Court – ORINFOR
Rwanda’s high court has rejected an appeal made by Umuvugizi newspaper to the court to lift the ban imposed on them by the media high council. The Kinywarwanda tabloid was banned for a period of six months. The high court says Umuvugizi did not follow the right legal procedure in lodging the appeal. Gasasira Jean Bosco the paper’s proprietor said he will appeal the high court’s decision.
Genocide survivors denounce American lawyer defending Ingabire – Rwanda News Agency
The umbrella group IBUKA demanded Thursday that Prof. Peter Erlinder should be brought to justice for “denying and negating” the Tutsi Genocide – also branding him as an enemy of Rwanda, RNA reports.
Rwanda is perfection, utopia and heaven all in one – New Times
A valued friend of Rwanda cautioned a number of us against tending towards painting a utopia when we write about today’s Rwanda. What leads my colleagues and me to this tendency?
Ingabire’s American lawyer arrested in Kigali – Radio Netherlands Worldwide
Rwandan Police have arrested Peter Erlinder, the American lawyer who traveled to Rwanda’s capitol, Kigali on Monday, May 23rd, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.
U.S. embassy declines comment on arrest of Ingabire’s lawyer – Rwanda News Agency
When contacted, U.S. Embassy public affairs officer Edwina Sagitto simply said: “The embassy is aware of the arrest of Peter Erlinder by Rwandan Police. Beyond that, the embassy cannot comment due to privacy concerns.”
28 MAY 10
Rwanda has created the conditions & confidence for private investment – Tony Blair
The Government, despite the political challenges, has created the conditions and confidence for private investment to work in partnership towards shared goals. It is cutting poverty, and improving healthcare and education. Sustained economic growth has, in turn, being used to deliver real improvements for all Rwandans.
Rwanda is not ready for the medicine of democracy, says Kagame – The Independent
“Democracy and human rights are niceties and are all important, but tell me, if somebody is wondering if they have anything to eat, they are not listening,” he continues. “It’s a fact that when somebody has food, when you bring another message, then they listen.”
30 MAY 2010
General Nyamwasa responds to Kagame – Daily Monitor
A week after President Paul Kagame of Rwanda accused former army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and former intelligence boss Col. Patrick Karegeya of running away from accountability, the two officials, who live in exile in South Africa, give their side of the story in a statement emailed to Sunday Monitor by Lt. General Nyamwasa.
Rumour circulating over Ingabire rape – Rwanda News Agency
“You should know this country much better than I do because people are good at spreading rumours and also depending on them so much,” she said amid laughter. “Do you think anybody can enter this house as they wish?”
Republic of Rwanda statement on the arrest of Peter Erlinder – Benzinga
We understand that human rights activists schooled in the US Bill of Rights may find this objectionable. But for Rwandans — schooled in the tragedy of the 1994 genocide and who long for peace – Mr. Erlinder’s arrest is an act of justice.
Ingabire investigation could take a year, says prosecution – Rwanda News Agency
“If she does not speak, the investigating prosecutor will write exactly that 26and investigations will continue until there is sufficient evidence,” said Nkusi.
Op-Ed on the arrest of Erlinder – Rwanda Focus
If anyone from the West wants to write about, talk about or otherwise complain about today’s Rwanda, they should first study it’s bloody past. Those who question press freedom here should read some old RTLM transcripts with the understanding that the “nobles” from the West could have jammed the murderous transmissions at any time. Those who question negationism laws should spend a few days sitting (and crying) with survivors, orphans and widows. Those who deny the genocide took place should spend a few nights trying to sleep among the meticulously laid bones at memorial sites in Rebero, Nyanza and Nyarubuye. Then they should come and live in Rwanda – today’s Rwanda – for at least a year, preferably two, because it takes that long to pick up the subtle tones and gestures that are common here and to understand the Banyarwanda way. Otherwise, these critics are no different than those fellows in Berlin some 125 years ago, slicing and dicing a creature they know little or nothing about.
31 MAY 2010
Peter Erlinder being detained in Rwanda is hospitalized – Pioneer Press
“Toward the end of the five hours, Peter said he was not feeling well and asked to see a doctor,” Berglund said. “He was transported to the hospital.”
1 JUN 2010
Locked up in Rwanda: an interview with Sarah Erlinder – Foreign Policy
Sarah Erlinder argues that her father’s incarceration is unjust and shines a light on a county far too long believed to be democratic — a darling of foreign donors for its recovery from genocide. Instead, she says, this confirms what many of Kagame’s critics have long said: that this champion of democracy has an authoritarian side, now becoming all the more apparent.
Erlinder fakes illness as American lawyer joins legal team – New Times
“Today we cleared an American lawyer who presented his documents and he will join the other two Kenyan lawyers on Erlinder’s legal team. We had no problem with the Kenyan lawyers because our countries work together,”
Distressed Peter Erlinder tries to “commit suicide”, say Rwanda police – Rwanda News Agency
The Police now says by trying to commit suicide, Mr. Erlinder adds another criminal offense on the Genocide denial charge sheet
2 JUN 2010
The strange case of Peter Erlinder – Minneapolis Star Tribune
“He knew exactly what he was getting into,” said Bill Harper, McCollum’s chief of staff. “He knew it was dangerous.”
U.S. lawyer retracts Rwanda genocide denial remarks – Reuters
“He said during questions that ‘I am retracting my comments, my provocations and anything that you think violates your law’,” Ngoga told Reuters. The legal source who is familiar with the case confirmed the retraction.
Claim of Erlinder suicide attempt in Rwanda is disputed – Minneapolis Star Tribune
“He is healthy … it is clear that he did not make a suicide attempt.”
Erlinder has not retracted anything, says Kenyan defense attorney – Rwanda News Agency
“Peter denied all the allegations. He denied his writings constitute any crimes,” said Kennedy Ogetto, in an email message. “[Erlinder] emphasized that his writings and speeches are all protected by free speech guarantees under the US constitution and the laws of the commonwealth of which Rwanda is a member.”
Erlinder took overdose to get out of jail, family says – Minneapolis Star Tribune
Peter Erlinder told American consular officials in Rwanda that he took extra prescription pills in order to get out of a jail cell where he is being held with seven or eight other inmates, his family
U.S. calls for Rwanda to release professor Erlinder – AP
The State Department is calling on the government of Rwanda to release a jailed U.S. law professor on the grounds of compassion.
4 JUN 2010
“In Rwanda, it’s a pity that the noose is no longer allowed” – New Times
“Equally, there are varying but severe punishments in Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, Slovakia, Poland, Italy, Luxembourg and others. In Rwanda, it’s a pity that the noose is no longer allowed!”
6 JUN 2010
“This is not a process we can stop just because a U.S. citizen is involved” – Fox
Erlinder walked into a Rwandan court room Friday to plead his case. Erlinder, who told the court he has not spoken to family or friends since being detained, was in Rwanda defending alleged leaders of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. But Friday, the judge charged Erlinder with denying genocide, and for publishing articles threatening the country’s security.
No bail for Peter Erlinder, Ingabire may hire another lawyer – Rwanda News Agency
Peter Erlinder, the American lawyer arrested in Rwanda on Genocide denial charges, was handcuffed by police as the judge remanded him to 30 days of detention to allow for continued investigations and subsequent trial. The accused has five days to appeal the decision but his client, presidential hopeful Victoire Ingabire, may enlist the services of somebody else.
U.S. Senator puts pressure on Rwandan over Erlinder – Minnesota Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said the Rwandan embassy in Washington D.C. hasn’t responded to repeated inquiries from her office. She said that pattern could eventually jeopardize the partnership between the two countries.
9 JUN 2010
Erlinder and his co-conspirators have failed – New Times Letters
Thankfully Rwanda is way past that and there is no room for genocide deniers who want to take the currently healing and succeeding Rwanda back to the pre-genocide era.
Rwanda is a volcano waiting to erupt, says Rusesabagina – CNN
“Rwanda is a dormant volcano that might erupt anytime. The ruling government has created a tiny group of elites that has taken over everything,”
I’m no ‘stooge’ presidential candidate, says Rwanda’s Deputy Speaker – Daily Monitor
That was an insult to me and I think they should concentrate on their jobs. I know what my party wants and it has asked me to do.
16 JUN 2010
Opposition coalition breaks up amid accusations of rebel activity – Rwanda News Agency
The loose coalition of opposition parties is finally over after the yet-to-be registered Green Party claimed the FDU-Inkingi of being part of a plan under way outside Rwanda to launch armed rebellion unless President Kagame resigns before the elections.
Rwanda court grants medical bail to US lawyer – AP
A judge in Rwanda has granted bail to a U.S. lawyer on medical grounds.
19 JUN 2010
Rwanda ex-army chief Nyamwasa shot in Johannesburg – BBC
The former chief of staff of the Rwandan army has been shot in South Africa and taken to a Johannesburg hospital in a critical condition.
Former Rwanda soldier arrested for Nyamwasa shooting – South Africa Times
Police have arrested a former Rwandan soldier in connection with the attempted murder in Johannesburg of that country’s former army chief, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.
20 JUN 2010
Kagame said he will kill Kayumba, wife alleges – Daily Monitor
Ms Rosette Kayumba, wife to renegade military general Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, has accused the Rwandan government of trying to assassinate her husband in South Africa, an allegation Kigali vehemently denied yesterday.
21 JUN 2010
South Africa arrests 6 in attempt to kill Nyamwasa. Opposition reacts – AP
“This incident is a nefarious conspiracy for disruption of peace in Rwanda, a country sinking deeply into a political and military crisis,” Ingabire said in a statement. “The lack of political space, the arrest of opposition leaders, lawyers and senior military officers, the use of violence and all kind of intimidation of dissenting voices are obvious signs of a country on the brink of chaos.”
General Kazura allegedly implicated in assassination attempt – African Great Lakes Network
According to the same sources, it appears that General Jean Bosco Kazura was sent on a mission by the Rwandan Government to travel to South Africa and organize the assassination while the South African police was busy with the opening of the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
22 JUN 2010
General Kayumba Nyamwasa leaves hospital – Daily Monitor
Exiled Rwandan general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa has been discharged from hospital in South Africa after the doctor’s at Morningside Clinic in Johannesburg gave him a clean bill of health. He left hospital shortly after midday.
Erlinder steps off plane to wife’s embrace – video report – WCCO
“I’m terribly disappointed to know that I was misled by my own government in respect to what Rwanda really is,” he said.
24 JUN 2010
Rwandan opposition respond to arrests and assaults – PCC press release
“We call upon the Rwandan Government to postpone the presidential election until the political field is free, fair.”
25 JUN 2010
Editor of suspended Rwandan newspaper shot dead – Reuters
“It was around 10 pm at his gate, as he was coming home. An armed criminal shot him with two bullets. Police came five minutes later and took the body to hospital. He died on the spot,“
Rwandan opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire denied run for office – AP
An ethnic Hutu opposition candidate who hoped to run for president in Rwanda has been denied the right to appear on the ballot because of charges of denying the country’s genocide, party officials said Friday.
Exiled Umuvugizi editor says Rwandan security killed his acting editor – VOA
Jean Bosco Gasasira says acting editor Rugambage was killed because his paper was investigating the shooting of a Rwandan general
Peter Erlinder robbed at gunpoint outside St. Paul home – Fox
“Erlinder described the suspect as a black man, 16 to 17 years old”.
Rwandan journalists condemn killing of colleague – New Times
“We expect, in a week or less, to see a thorough investigative report detailing who exactly is behind this barbaric act,
26 JUN 2010
Kayumba Nyamwasa granted asylum status in South Africa – BusinessDay
“He applied for asylum in SA, his asylum was adjudicated and was granted,” said The Department of Home Affairs’ deputy director-general responsible for immigration, Jackson McKay.
Rwanda denies any link to journalist murder – AFP
“Of course, this is not true, it’s baseless,” Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told AFP. “We are not a government that assassinates journalists, we are a responsible government.
Critics fear Rwanda’s president is smashing dissent – Canadian Press
“There is this whole psyche that there is a crackdown in Rwanda, that tensions are reigning,” said Mushikiwabo. “People are taking advantage of the forthcoming elections to project this kind of situation, but I can assure you that the situation is created.”
28 JUNE 2010
Rwanda is on the right track, says President Paul Kagame – New Times
“We don’t need to lose anybody, at that, somebody called a journalist, not only for his right to live, but for us not to attract the kind of image that we shouldn’t be having at this time.”
2 JUL 2010
Editor’s murder ‘approved by Rwandan President’ – The Independent
“I know it, I don’t doubt it. The explanations are just Kagame’s excuses,” he said. Speaking of the recent attempt to abduct him in Uganda, he added: “I know it was his people.”
5 JUL 2010
There is certainly no political crisis in Rwanda – Daily Monitor
Bottom line, the hullabaloo about a crisis in Rwanda is a mere hoax. Rwanda remains as stable as it has always been. The only difference is that this is an election year that naturally comes along with its own excitements.
8 JUL 2010
South Africa-Rwanda ties strained over shooting – AFP
Rwanda has hit back at South Africa over “insinuations” it was behind an attempt to kill a dissident general, which some of Kigali’s opponents said was part of a pre-election purge of top brass.
Nyamwasa wanted in Spain and France – Daily Monitor
“Yes, there are [new] extradition requests from those two countries that we are considering,” Mr Tlali Tlali, the spokesman for South Africa’s Foreign Ministry, told this newspaper by telephone last evening.
Suspected journalist killers named – New Times
“In his testimony, Nduguyangu pleaded guilty and said that Karemera contracted him to kill Rugambage because the victim had killed Karemera’s brother in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” said Nkusi.
13 JUL 2010
Rugambage murder suspects appear in court – New Times
The two suspects in the murder of local journalist, Jean Leonard Rugambage, yesterday appeared in court but their case was adjourned after one of them did not have a lawyer.
300 observers register for Rwanda’s Presidential polls – New Times
The commission wrote to a number of organizations to take part in the elections. Among those that have shown interest are COMESA, Foreign Embassies in Rwanda, and Regional Electoral Commissions.
14 JUL 2010
Rwanda opposition party says top official missing – Reuters
“There’s no blood or anything, so we don’t know what actually happened… but it is confirmed that he is missing,” the party’s president, Frank Habineza, told Reuters by telephone from Butare.
15 JUL 2010
Rwanda Green Party VP Andre Kagwa Rwisereka found dead – Reuters
“His head was almost completely removed from his body. His brother Antoine Haguma confirms seeing the dead body,” Frank Habineza, founding President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda said in a statement.
Rwanda opposition wants int’l probe of leader’s murder – AFP
“The permanent consultative council of opposition parties in Rwanda (PCC) calls for an independent international investigation on the assassination of the opposition key figure Mr Andre Kagwa Rwisereka,” said a statement by three opposition groups.
21 JUL 2010
First day of Rwanda political campaign opens with funeral – RFI
While Rwandan president Paul Kagame was busy launching his re-election campaign in Kigali on Tuesday, members of the opposition Democratic Green Party bid farewell to their vice chairman.
Rwanda ruling party says killings won’t harm campaign – Bloomberg
Rwanda’s ruling party said a spate of political killings in the run-up to next month’s presidential election won’t overshadow President Paul Kagame’s campaign to secure a second term.
Rwanda: A presidential campaign without much suspense – African Bulletin
the three other candidates are the vice president of the National Assembly and former Minister of Health, Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo; the vice-chairman of the Senate and former Minister of Trade, Prosper Higiro, and finally a woman Alvera Mukabaramba. All have a program and speech similar to the RPF, and all had supported the president Kagamé during the last election.
I’m impressed by the Rwandan media – New Times Letters
“I was shocked to see candidates and parties I hardly knew about”
22 JUL 2010
“We will not try to kill three people in a row right before election” – New Statesman
“We certainly might not be a model government for a lot of people, but we’re not a stupid government,” Rwanda’s foreign minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, told journalists. “And we will not try to kill three people in a row right before election.”
Foreign press accreditation in Rwanda now $300 per year – Media High Council
A foreign journalist who intends to stay for not more than 15 days will pay US $30. However, to stay for a year (12 months), a foreign journalist will pay US $300.
Let us run our elections in a civilized fashion – New Times
We need a selfless leader who will continue to steer this nation to great heights.
Louise Mushikiwabo defends ‘Genocide Ideology’ law – Newsweek
“The fact that Rwanda now has four presidential candidates is nowhere to be seen in international media.”
25 JUL 2010
Who wants Kagame’s job? – The Observer
Rwanda President, Paul Kagame will face the voters in an election on August 9. Three other candidates stand in his way to another seven years at the helm of his country. GAAKI KIGAMBO looks at who these individuals are.
30 JUL 2010
Parties hold first Presidential debate – New Times
They answered questions on various issue, including the treatment of Genocide survivors, teacher’s salaries, foreign relations and people empowerment initiatives.
The events of the last four months demonstrate the powerful undercurrents at work in this quiet still-water country, whose history is and future will be one of bitter divisions: Hutu and Tutsi, Before and After, Us and Them, Image and Reality, Prosperity and Poverty. The maddening answers to the important questions are always somewhere in between the poles. It is undeniable that Rwanda has seen unprecedented growth in infrastructure, industry, and investment – this country is healthier, richer, and more famous than it was sixteen years ago. Relative to nearby African lawless oil-garch kleptocracies like the D.R.C., Libya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, even Uganda, etc., Rwanda’s government is about as corrupt as the tooth fairy on Prozac.
What I am trying to suggest is the admittedly unexciting impression that this is a country that is struggling with issues with freedom of expression and lack of political space, but things could be a lot worse. Paul Kagame’s regime uses the Party-esque concept of ‘genocide ideology’ to repress dissent, but some of the dissent being repressed would see the genocide repeated. The opinion of a people is seemingly subjected to the tug and pull between government mouthpieces and foreign watchdogs, but the country is about to be connected to a fibre optic network that will give them access to more information and viral videos of musical felines than they could dream of. Still, marble-eyed street kids’ lift mickeys of glue to their nostrils at the feet of skyscrapers being erected to house stories of IT professionals, and grenades are detonated in public squares named for National Unity. It is hard to make heads or tails of a coin that’s constantly spinning. National Geographic contributor Christopher Vouralias writes about the “misguided passion” that informs most stories about Rwandan: ‘the need to justify and legitimize a point of view that, admittedly, shifts according to which way the wind is blowing my contrarian sails. Thus a fellatory forecast of Rwanda’s bright ICT future has me huffing about human rights, while a screed that makes Kigali sound like an African Pyongyang has me extolling the virtues of, yes, the Rwandan renaissance. In Rwanda, you feel compelled to take sides – so much so that, at times, I feel like I’m arguing less out of conviction than out of a need to have that conviction.’ For my part, the hermeneutics of foreign affairs is a foggy business and I am barely more than a philistine in Rwanda. At best, I am left behind glass, staring at a portrait of a country into a background rich with ghosts I can only dimly understand, stammering interpretations of her Mona Lisa smile that only reflect a viewer concerned, intrigued, and utterly mystified.