Saturday, August 21, 2010

Still The Model For Africa?

Paul Kagame reminded me somewhat of Dr. D.R.E.  while singing his "autocrat" blues "Rwanda's Democracy Still The Model For Africa " in the Finacial Times last week. These Rwandan elections have not been the "honeymoon"  he had anticipated based on all the praise he had received from people like Michael Fairbanks, Philip Gourevitch, Stephen Kinzer or Tony Blair over the last decade. Instead he was humiliated like a schoolroom sissy by Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero. The leader of the Spanish social democrats called him a "shaddy figure".  This public relations "meltdown" resulted in bloggers across the globe still asking long after the elections "Who won the Rwandan elections?"

STill, as in the US and in the Netherlands, an election is not just about who wins, but serves also to get an idea as to  what political parties stand for. And I think in that respect we can say that the world and Rwandans have gained a lot of information about the ideological "foundations" of the RPF.

Even if we just look at what Paul Kagame writes in the Financial Times we see some really valuable information emerging:
"Instead, they   (Rwandans) accepted political pluralism on the condition that parties would not operate at local level."
"It is a shame that some so casually disregard the views of the majority of Rwandans and prefer to elevate the dangerous opinions of fly-by-night individuals, which in turn threaten to reverse our hard-earned stability. "

 Dr. Thomas Obel Hansen has written an insightfull analysis of RPF politics which closely resembles Paul Kagame's article in which he quotes Aloysia Inyumba, the former General Secretary of Rwanda‟s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission and also a prominent RPF leader, who said:
“the ordinary citizens are like babies. They will need to be completely educated before we can talk about democracy”. 
Still the RPF apparently does not offer a path towards full citizenship for all Rwandans. You have the "elite" that knows what is good for Rwanda, and you got the babies. Still, I don't see a model for democratic development here. Let's compare this to the Philipines, to Mexico, to Ghana or Senegal. Still.

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