Saturday, February 20, 2010

Probably Past Time For Paul Kagame To Go

Today, while twitterers across the globe were diligently retweeting the Rwandan Government tweet: "Three grenade explosions occurred in Kigali on Friday evening, resulting in one death and thirty injuries", one lonely twitterer went upstream: Josh Treviño, communications director for U.S. Senate candidate (R) Chuck DeVore (California): "So this Rwanda story breaking now reminds me: it's probably past time for Paul Kagame to go." It actually got quite interesting when he got the impression that I accused him of racism for not being a Kagame fan.

This short conversation illustrates the fact that the critics of Kagame's autocratic rule have gone mainstream in the US. How much longer will the US political elite in Washington be able to resist this major shift in public opinion about their "beacon of hope" in Africa? The words from Richard Durbin (number two in the US Senate's Democrat majority) show that the US administration desperately needs to see results and progress concerning the unresolved FDLR (the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) issue.

Richard Durbin stated last monday in a visit to Goma, that:
"The question of FDLR should be resolved both by the Congolese government, Rwandan government and the international community."
The Illinois senator, who is close to President Barack Obama, suggested that Rwanda should publish the names of FDLR fighters accused of violating human rights.
"Opportunity should be given to people who were not involved in horrific crimes to go back to Rwanda. There are some who have already been back to Rwanda. They live quite well, because they were not involved in horrific crimes,"
Durbin said.

Sofar Kigali has not responded to Richard Durbin's request, what Kagame did do was publish the article on The New Times website without proper exegesis.

However if you take a closer look you will notice that the statement contains a strong message. A message that comes close to what Kris Berwouts, said on february 10th in a interview with Jason Stearns:
"We consider the FDLR problem as political, so the solution needs to be political as well. We have no taboos about a military dimension, but only when it’s focused, and when it’s part of a broader political approach. A military solution does not exist. But the chances for a diplomatic approach to succeed will also depend on Rwanda: today, the outlook is gloomy as far as democratic participation, guaranteed human rights and socio-economic opportunities are concerned. Yet if the FDLR combatants are to return home, they need to be sure that they can live in future in peace and dignity. A huge stumbling block comes from the fact that an entire community is blamed for the genocide. The génocidaire label is applied to a whole group and not to individuals. The only way to make progress on this question is to be more explicit as to which persons are to blame and of what they are accused. "
Apparently Kagame doesn't see the writing on the wall.

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