General Kagame Will ‘Win’ Rwanda’s Election
An Interview with David Himbara
Global Research, August 01, 2017
Rwandans will go to the polls to elect a president on August 4, but asking whether General Paul Kagame will win is like asking whether bears shit in the woods. I nevertheless asked David Himbara, author of Kagame’s “Economic Mirage” and “Kagame’s Killing Fields,” just to get this conversation started.
Ann Garrison: David Himbara, who’s going to win next week’s election?
David Himbara: General Paul Kagame will win. There is no doubt about that.
AG: And what makes you so sure?
DH: Kagame is running against himself. Credible opposition figures are in prison, in exile, or blocked from competing against him—if they haven’t been assassinated.
AG: President Kagame “won” by 93% last time. What percentage do you imagine he’ll claim this time?
AG: That’s a hysterically high number, very close to the Ethiopian ruling party’s 100% in 2015.
DH: Well, the numbers keep going higher. Kagame won the referendum changing the constitution by 98%. Parliament voted for the change of the constitution by 99%. The Senate voted for it by 100%. So Kagame will probably win by 99.9%. His people will give the remaining tenth of a percent to the other two candidates to share.
AG: Could you explain the constitutional referendum?
DH: Kagame engineered the constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits so that he could cling to power beyond two 7-year terms. The amended constitution allows Kagame to rule until 2034. Rwandan parliamentarians who engaged in nationwide discussions in preparation for the referendum claimed that they found only ten people opposed to removing term limits. Voters allegedly approved the referendum by over 98%.
AG: During the 2010 election year, two candidates went to prison and another went into exile after the vice president of his party was found by a riverbank with his head cut off. Journalists were shot or threatened, and Kagame’s assassins were at work in at least three more African countries. What happened this year?
DH: There was no violence this time for the simple reason that the regime has had nothing to fear. There are no genuine opposition leaders except Diane Rwigara, and she wasn’t allowed to run. Bernard Ntaganda went to prison for trying to run in the 2010 election. He’s free now, but Rwandan law prohibits anyone who has served time in prison from running for president. Victoire Ingabire of course remains in prison. And there is no independent media. The New Times of Rwanda exists to glorify General Kagame. He has tightened his totalitarian grip.
AG: Who manages the voting process itself?
DH: The National Electoral Commission, which is not independent of the regime.
AG: In your book “Kagame’s Killing Fields,” you wrote, “From the presidencies of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, each administration has invested significantly in the Rwandan military. Whether it was a Republican or Democratic presidency, the United States consistently poured millions of dollars into Rwanda’s military machine.”
You also quoted Chris Smith, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations:
“Kagame has been considered a hero on the international stage, and has long been immune to public criticism… There are credible reports that the RPF government has commissioned assassins to kill dissidents… By largely avoiding criticism of Rwandan human rights issues, the Bush and Obama administrations raised appropriations to Rwanda from $39 million in fiscal year 2003 to $188 million in fiscal year 2014.”None of this is likely to change because of this year’s election farce, but what happened last week when you went to Washington to speak to someone at the US State Department?
DH: The State Department was chaotic. The United States government is currently preoccupied with domestic issues, and Rwanda is not even on the radar. The administration hasn’t yet staffed many offices in the State Department that are concerned with Africa. For example, there is no Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. And in the lower ranks, some of them have left and some are new. So I think it will take a while for the United States to recover its interest in Africa and in Rwanda. In the meantime, the money will continue to flow because the tap’s already turned on. And that goes for the British government as well. It is currently consumed by its divorce from the European Union. Of course these two countries, the US and the UK, are General Kagame’s main backers.
AG: One of their excuses for funding Kagame’s killing fields is his claim that, under his leadership, Rwanda has risen from the ashes of genocide to become a development miracle. But you write that “only 303,550 Rwandans are employed in the formal economy, while 5.6 million are in subsistence agriculture or eking out a living in urban and rural informal sectors. Put in another way, 93 percent of Rwandan adults aged sixteen to sixty-five work outside the formal economy.” How does Kagame sustain this development-miracle myth with numbers like that?
DH: Kagame is a genius at lying, and he gets plenty of help from Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Howard Buffett, and his other powerful friends in the West. American universities also help perpetuate this big lie by inviting Kagame to speak about his so-called development miracle.
AG: In “Kagame’s Killing Fields,” you also wrote,“By 1997, Kagame had become the predominant occupying power in DRC [the Democratic Republic of the Congo], a vast country ninety times larger than Rwanda.” How would you describe Rwanda’s presence in DRC now?
DH: The current situation in DRC is ideal for Kagame, because the international community is not paying particular attention to the region and the country is caught up in his own struggle to remain in power past two terms. You can be sure that right now Kagame is arming militias to loot and destabilize DRC. The latest US State Department’s human rights report on Rwanda says that almost all 400 disarmed M23 rebels held in Rwanda have vanished. Where are they? No doubt in DRC plundering resources and wreaking havoc.
David Himbara is a Rwandan Canadian, a professor of international development at Canada’s Centennial College, and the author of “Kagame’s Economic Mirage” and “Kagame’s Killing Fields.” In March 2017, he was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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Rwanda’s sham Elections and Fiction of Women Empowerment
With barely few weeks for Rwandans to go to the Polls to choose their next President, the deception of the Current president Paul Kagame has won him international praise for leading the country back from the failed state after the Genocide of the Tutsis in 1994 to the so called economic development success in the region. President Kagame has been also praised for promoting public health and gender equality.
According to the doctored statistics in Rwanda, this tiny nation has the world’s highest percentage of women in Parliament; girls and boys are likely to be enrolled in primary school, and rates of maternal and child mortality are among the lowest in Africa.
However, according to the new Amnesty International and Human Rights reports on Rwanda show, this rosy picture hides a terrifyingly repressive regime of which many courageous Rwandan women and girls have been victims. Since the Genocide of the Tutsis attacks on opposition and their supporters, journalists, and human-rights activists have created an atmosphere of fear that renders the election a caricature.
Cracks have also recently appeared in the story of Rwanda’s development success. According Filip Reyntjens, Rwanda’s National Institute of Statistics has doctored the definition of poverty in its household surveys, so that it looked as though poverty had declined between 2010 and 2013, when it actually seems to have risen.
Indeed, a British consulting firm that had collaborated on past household surveys pulled out of this one, citing an unspecified “difference of view.” Western aid workers claim they’ve witnessed the undercounting of maternal and child deaths in health surveys and, in 2015, a Rwandan doctor who confronted the health minister about mismanaged health sector funds died in prison under mysterious circumstances.
According David Himbara , the Rwandan government has a habit or systemic policy of “statistical manipulation “ that hardly anyone knows what the reality is. In these elections in the Kagame Rwanda, five candidates declared their intention to run against Kagame. But Kagame’s electoral commission with just a remote control ordered it to block Thomas Nahimana who was not even allowed to come to his country and now remains in France.
In fact many opposition supporters have been found dead in gruesome circumstances; others have landed in jail without charges; others have disappeared or been physically attacked.
Kagame’s only woman challenger in these elections was recently disqualified, Diane Shima Rwigara, daughter of the late Assinapol Rwigara, a business mogul and one of the top financiers of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) during the 4 year bush war that brought RPF and Kagame to power.
The Rwigara family parted ways with the Kagame regime after Assinapol’s death two years ago. The government claims he died in a car accident. However, the Rwigaras say that he was assassinated after winning a series of court cases against the government, frustrating the government’s efforts to seize their assets. The family says that on the day he died his wife and their other daughter, Anne, arrived on the scene to find him still alive with a fresh, bleeding wound on the back of his head. According to the autopsy report, it was caused by a blow to the head. In an interview with the BBC, Anne describes how they pleaded with the police to allow them to rush him to a hospital, but the officers refused. An ambulance arrived, but the police turned it away. Then, according to Anne, the police put her still-breathing father in a body bag, and drove him past a hospital to a police morgue, where they eventually finished him off.
Kagame has publicly declared the outcome of the elections and has castigated the international community and other critics who have challenged the legality and legitimacy of these sham elections. Now that Kagame has declared himself the President, all Rwandans need to resist Kagame’s staged elections by all means necessary. Indeed, the only language Kagame and RPF will listen and understand is the natural resistance that all human beings will react and respond to when they are oppressed.