Sunday, March 25, 2012

A revolutionary Climate Exists in Rwanda Today- Theogene Rudasingwa -Ex Aide Takes President Kagame To Task

By Ajong Mbapndah L 
Pan-African Visions
November 26, 2011

Dr Rudasingwa says there is a revolutionary atmosphere in RwandaTo many non Rwandans President Paul Kagame represents the prototype of the modern day African leader: educated, dynamic, hard working, visionary, progressive minded and results oriented. This image is far from reality says Dr Theogene Rudasingwa a former top Aide of the Rwandan President who is today one of his most ferocious critics. The portrait of Kagame in the international contrasts sharply with the President Rwandans face in everyday life says Dr Rudasingwa who continues to stand by statements he made recently impugning President Kagame for the shooting down of the plane carrying President Habyrimana in 1994.The topic is so sensitive because of its direct relation the genocide that ensued .
Rudasingwa who served as Secretary General of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, Ambassador to the USA and Chief of Staff to President Kagame says further details of the conversation he had with President Kagame on the assassination of the former President in 1994 will be provided in any court or tribunal that will hear the case. Pressed on why he is coming up with such serious charges only today after falling out with Kagame, Rudasingwa says better late than never while affirming that the critical role the shooting played in sparking off the genocide makes it relevant. In very revealing interview with Ajong Mbapndah L, Dr Rudasingwa says the status quo in Rwanda has become unsustainable making the country ripe for a revolution. “Once again, Rwanda is at crossroads, and must make a choice between a bloody revolution and a peaceful revolution” Kagame’s friend now foe says.
PAV: Dr Rudasingwa recently you came up with this allegation that President Kagame was personally responsible for the shooting down of the plane carrying President Habyrimana in 1994, an incident which helped to trigger the genocide. Do you stand by the claim and what facts do you have to substantiate such a strong allegation?
Dr Rudasingwa: As I said in my statement of 1st October, 2011, Paul Kagame himself told me he was responsible for the shooting down of the plane in which President Habyarimana, President Ntaryamira and others were killed. I will provide other details of this conversation in a court or tribunal that will hear this and other evidence to bring the perpetrators of this terrorist crime to account
PAV: You served as a Senior Official of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Ambassador of your country to the USA and as Chief of Staff to President Kagame; may we know why it is only now that you are coming up with the allegations?
Dr Rudasingwa: There is English saying that better late than never. A crime, especially of this magnitude, never grows old. As long as the truth finally comes out, it is useful not only to the families and relatives of those who perished in the terrorist crime, but for the whole Rwandan society as well. The shooting down of the plane was a critical factor in bringing RPF and Paul Kagame to power, a trigger in the Rwandan genocide, and has become decisive obstacle in the healing and reconciliation in Rwanda. While I was in Government till 2004, I was one of those who concealed the true perpetrators of crime. Since I fled Rwanda in 2005, I had determined I would come out with the truth at some point. But I was fearful of the consequences, if I was to come out with the truth. The day I conquered fear, and determined that I would prefer death in truth than a life in lies, was the day I decided to give my testimony.
A former top Aide to  Kagame, Dr Rudasingwa is today one of the most acerbic critics of the Rwandan PresidentPAV: By making those allegations you open up a painful chapter in the history of Rwanda, what do you seek to achieve today, is it clearing your conscience, is it seeking pay back for a friend turn foe in President Kagame?
Dr Rudasingwa: First and foremost it is to clear my conscience and come clean with my God, and with my fellow Rwandans. I firmly believe that truth telling, asking for forgiveness, and forgiving, have a powerful healing effect on individuals, families and nations. By telling the truth I hope that other Rwandans-Hutu, Tutsi and Twa-can look at our past and present, embrace truth telling as one of the pathways to true healing and reconciliation. I am not seeking payback to President Kagame. On the contrary, my philosophy, and that of the Rwanda National Congress, is that Rwandans have to break the cycle of violence and vengeance that have become mainstream in our society. But we also have to end the culture of impunity that in Rwanda has produced genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, civil war and refugees till now. President Kagame says he expects all Rwandans to account for their actions and is fond of saying choices have consequences. All I am telling Kagame is this: yes, Mr President, choices have consequences, and all Rwandans, including you, must account for their actions. Account for the shooting down of the plane and other crimes you have committed.
PAV: Rwanda today, well from the perspective of many especially those who do not live there cuts the image of a country making great economic and development progress does President Kagame not deserve the credit for the transformation that has taken place in the country?
Dr Rudasingwa: What are we talking about here? Here is a man who committed a terrorist crime in which lives were lost, including two Heads of State. Would Rwandans and the international community accept that because Kigali streets are clean, new estates have sprung up, we should look the other side and forget this crime or justify it? What moral or ethical standards are we creating for our society? Where is fairness and justice when hundreds of thousands of other Rwandans have been asked to account for their role in genocide when Paul Kagame cannot account for his role in the terrorist crime and the genocide that followed it. Second, a good student of Rwandan history will also note that the two violent revolutions that rocked our nation in 1959 and 1994 were not primarily about economic development. Politics and power stand at the center.  Before the RPF regime in 1994, the Habyarimana regime scored high marks for aid-based development in Rwanda. Now the international aid community says the same about Kagame regime. The majority of Rwandans, most of them rural peasants, remain impoverished. Development remains Kigali-based, concentrated in the hands of a minority. Kagame’s so called development is not based on creating new value, or expanding the national cake. It just redistributes aid money and limited national resources to those who can ensure the survival of his brutal and unaccountable RPF regime. In any case, as history has shown, any economic progress can easily be swiftly undone by violent conflict due to unresolved political problems. Above all, the sanctity of human life is the basis and goal of human development. Without it, one cannot talk about development.
PAV: “A revolutionary climate does exist in Rwanda today. The big question is: will it be a peaceful one as in Tunisia or Egypt, or will Rwandan history repeat itself with a violent revolution as in 1959 and in 1994? We Rwandans shall determine which way to go” Can you shed more light on this assertion that you recently made on your face book page for us?
Dr Rudasingwa: Political and social revolutions do occur when the status quo becomes unsustainable. Such is the situation in Rwanda today. Power is extensively concentrated in the hands of one person-President Paul Kagame. Institutions may formally exist (legislature, judiciary, and executive), but they account for little in the power dynamics of Rwanda today. The party (RPF) and the security institutions (military, police, intelligence) are run by a clique of Tutsi who owe their allegiance only to Kagame. Political activity by citizens is banned. Independent media does not exist. An active and independent civil society does not exist. Opposition political leaders are jail, in exile, have been silenced or killed. Journalists and human rights activists face the same fate. Kagame and the RPF have refused to account for serious human rights abuses, war crimes, crimes against humanity, possible acts of genocide ( according to the UN Mapping report), and the shooting of the Habyarimana plane in 1994. Hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees languish in exile. Rwandan society is deeply and dangerously divided. Fear is pervasive everywhere and on everyone in Rwanda. All the above constitute what I call a revolutionary climate. Once again , Rwanda is at crossroads, and must make a choice between a bloody revolution and a peaceful revolution. To date, Rwanda is always tempted to a violent path. For now, Kagame has closed all avenues for peaceful change. He is eager for a fight, as he often brags. Considering how many innocent lives we have lost from 1959 to 2011, all Rwandans must reject and work to prevent another round of violent revolution. Peaceful revolution is long overdue and possible. We Rwandans must mobilise and organize for it.
PAV: What is your answer to critics who think former officials like you who fled the country for one reason or the other are out of touch with local realities and are out to tarnish the image that President Kagame has on the international scene?
Dr Rudasingwa: It is Kagame who is out of touch with the reality. The reality is the revolutionary climate I have described above. It is the Rwandans within and outside the country who daily live this reality. Kagame uses coercion and violent methods to force Rwandans to accept this miserable life. Rwandans are slowly waking up to resist this. Kagame’s image in Rwanda is known by Rwandans, even though they may not talk about it due to fear. Kagame’s image abroad has been falsified for too long. I for one did a lot to sell him as a good guy to often skeptical constituents. There is now a growing trend in Rwanda, media, and international community to see Kagame for who he really is: terrorist, war criminal, corrupt and brutal dictator. He has created and tarnished his own image. He should not blame others.
PAV: From the high offices that you occupied, you certainly fell in the category of close confidantes of President Kagame, what made you two to fall out and how did you evolve to been one of his most acerbic critics?
Dr Rudasingwa: This in itself would be a theme for another interview. Basically my divorce with Kagame came slowly. Working closely with him, and with time, I became more educated about him. When an unflattering history is finally written about him, Rwandans and the world will come to understand a man who is both an accidental leader and a tragic figure.  Accidental in a sense that he rose to the top within RPF because General Fred Rwigema (the charismatic leader who led RPF invasion into Rwanda on October 1, 1990), and more capable political and military officers (Majors Dr. Bayingana and Chris Bunyenyezi) all died within the first three weeks of the invasion. I suspect Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and his military commanders were aware of Kagame’s deep flaws, but they still preferred him to other RPF/RPA leaders of the time. Tragic, because I have never met anybody in my life that had a propensity and opportunity to do good, and yet has decided to be known as the person who combinesDespite the growing chorus of critics ,many think President Kagame has done much for his country and he is still widely respected on the International scene the attributes of a cold, calculating serial killer, and a mass murderer. If one thing is responsible for my divorce with Kagame, it is his unrepentant and relentless appetite to kill Rwandans. I only wish my divorce had happened earlier than later. My silence and enthusiastic salesmanship in marketing him has, in no small way, extended Kagame’s reign of terror. To Rwandans, I would say I am sorry about this.
PAV: Today you head the Rwanda National Congress, how is its vision different from that which you and President Kagame shared in the Rwanda Patriotic Front?
Dr Rudasingwa: RPF’s vision was about change in Rwanda: return of refugees, democratization, security and justice for all, unity and reconciliation, the rule of law and socio-economic transformation, among others. The fault is not in its vision, but in its practice. Kagame has hijacked a well-intentioned political movement and transformed it into a tool for monopoly of power and brutal dictatorship. The challenge for RNC and other Rwandan pro-democracy forces, and Rwandan people in general, is to merge our vision and practices to answer four questions: First, can we effectively and sustainably abandon using violence to acquire and maintain political power? Second, can we broaden and democratize power so that all constituents of Rwandan society (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) can freely participate in matters of governance, and legitimately have a sense of belonging to institutions that claim to represent them? Third, can we have truth-telling as a foundation for genuine forgiveness, healing, and reconciliation in communities of shared history, shared present and shared future? Fourth, can Rwandan society build equitable prosperity built on growing the Rwandan socio-economic pie, rather than just redistributing it? RNC’s answer to the four questions is that yes we can. To achieve that, we must go beyond vision and pay attention to the nature of organization we build, and the quality of leadership we promote. Dictatorship is built within the womb of the organization. Without internal democracy, the organization cannot champion what it does not have.  With time, the organization dies, and then society has to pay the price. That was the experience with previous ruling parties MDR-PARMEHUTU under President Kayibanda and MRND under President Habyarimana. That will be the fate of RPF under President Kagame.
PAV: Last question Dr, how will you describe the situation in the Great Lakes Region today and what is your reaction to President Obama’s decision to send US Military personnel to track down Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army?
Dr Rudasingwa: In the last decade, I would say the Great Lakes region has made some modest progress towards resolving violent conflicts that have claimed the lives of millions in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Uganda. The overall trend, however, remains on shaky foundations and evidently precarious. I would say that Rwanda’s Paul Kagame remains a force of destabilization in the medium to long term. Revolutionary pressures within Rwanda may explode, with dire consequences for the whole region. Rwanda’s intimidating policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to a less extent, Burundi and Uganda, may serve as negative influence to political and security developments in these countries.
As to President Obama’s gesture in sending military advisors to Uganda and the region, if the commitment is based on the plight of human suffering, one hopes it will be sufficient and sustained long enough to alleviate this suffering. Thinking aloud, though, I wonder why African nations spending so much on defence and security would fail to defeat their local foes for almost 30 years and expect 100 foreign military advisors to do the job for them. I would also encourage President Obama to apply US policy even-handedly. Kagame is responsible for far more serious crimes than the deposed (or slain) rulers of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The same pathology that drives Joseph Kony to kill children and rape women seems to have driven Kagame to shoot down a plane and commit atrocities in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is absolutely vital that the United States, whatever its national interests, does not shield the likes of Kagame from accounting for their crimes. Neglecting human rights abuses and people’s demands for freedom in the Great Lakes in particular, and Africa in general, will be counter-productive to U.S. National interests.
© 2008 Pan African Visions

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