PRESS RELEASE 005/2017 RWANDAN DONORS SHOULD STOP BANKROLLING A TOTALITARIAN REGIME.

Rwanda’s human rights record is so bad that it ranks alongside that of Syria and Eritrea. Yet it continues to be held up as a prime example of how donor support can work.

The double standards by the international community is yet revealed in its complacent attitude to the forthcoming elections in Rwanda, which by all standards are flawed.  As the US government statement pointed out after the 2010 presidential elections in Rwanda in 2010: “democracy is about more than holding elections, “a democracy reflects the will of the people, where minority voices are heard and respected, where opposition candidates run on the issues without threat or intimidation, where freedom of expression and freedom of the press are protected.”

All credible reports from international human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as governments including  the US Department of State report on human rights released in 2017 highlight cases of “ arbitrary or unlawful killings; torture; harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and: individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; security forces’ disregard for the rule of law; and restrictions on civil liberties; restrictions on the registration and operation of opposition parties, hence denying citizens the ability to change their government through free and fair elections”.

In this regard, the Political opposition platform composed of the following political organisations, Amahoro PC; FDU-Inkingi, PDP-Imanzi; PS Imberakuri and RNC, strongly condemns the complacent attitude of the financial backers of a regime that is responsible for massive human rights violations and hence has created conditions for another cycle of political violence. We would like to recall that, ironically, in his address to the UN General Assembly special session on the rule of law on the 25th of September 2012, President Kagame pointed out that double standards on the part of the international community contributed to Rwandan genocide. The international community should therefore bring to order the Rwandan regime without fear or favour towards to avoid another cycle of political violence.

The forthcoming presidential elections in Rwanda very much resemble electoral processes in North Korea or Iraq under former dictator Sadam Hussein where nearly 100% score are known beforehand. Rwandans have been called to cast their votes on the 3rd and 4th of August 2017, in order to complete the ritual of confirming the appointment of Paul Kagame as President of Rwanda for the next 7 seven years. The electoral commission, is composed solely of the ruling party stalwarts appointed by the party chair President Kagame, will then decide the score, that it will give to their presidential candidate, the incumbent President. In other words, it is up to President Kagame and his advisors to decide the score he wants.

Indeed, in his first day of the campaign in his home town of Ruhango President Kagame declared that anyone who ignores the fact that the result of the elections was decided in December 2015 following the referendum was a fool.

In order to remove any dent in the final score, the electoral commission has rejected the requests of Ms Diane Rwigara, a 35-year-old novice in politics and another unknown candidate Mwenedata both of whom criticised President Kagame, to stand against him. We may recall that another serious contender in 2010 elections, Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza has been condemned to 15 years in prison for having attempted to stand against President Kagame.

This expensive ritual will have cost millions of dollars to organise in a country where only 30% of the population has access to electricity, 44% of the children under 5 are stunted due to malnutrition and people are fleeing the country in search for food due to famine that has been nicknamed “nzaramba” (I am here to stay).

We hope that the regime’s donors will avoid the embarrassment and hypocrisy of sending congratulatory messages for a landslide victory, and calling for continued excellent relations between their respective countries.

We call on all peace-loving governments, organisations and friends of Rwanda to reject the results of the flawed electoral process.

We call on donors to use the same pressure they used to compel the Rwandan regime to end its support to the murderous M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to do the same and force Rwanda to release all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience and to open the political space. Otherwise the international community is running the risk of complicity in case there is another political violence in Rwanda.

 

Done in Ottawa on 25th July 2017

 

Etienne Masozera

Chair   Platform

(819) 431-2167