Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Unfortunate Donor Strategy Rwanda

Filip Reyntjens who did an interview on the current state of Rwanda with jambonews sometime ago, stressed the importance of joint donor strategy in order to implement a road map towards democracy:
"ce serait qu’un consortium de bailleurs, fassent en partenariat avec le gouvernement du Rwanda une feuille de route visant à atteindre certains indicateurs relativement quantifiables."
Sofar we have not seen any of that. The spokesperson of the donors to Rwanda, Dutch ambassador Frans Makken, has claimed that the elections in 2010 were "free and fair", and that both the HRW report on gacaca and the mapping report were "unfortunate".

The State department's war crimes chief's visit to Rwanda in the run up to the Lazare Kobagaya trial was part of the same donor strategy. The goal was to use the outcome of that trial as a PR weapon against critics of the Kigali regime, specifically Paul Rusesabagina and Victoire Ingabire.

People like Susan Rice and Jared Cohen would have flooded the internet with sentimental messages about "the first convicted Rwandan genocide suspect in the US", just one week before Kagame's visit to New York and Chicago. Farfetched? Not at all. Wikileaks shows that the State department's war crimes chief lobbied Spain to limit the impact of the indictments of 40 senior Rwandan officiers. For precisely the same image-laundering reasons Susan Rice lobbied at the UN to get Paul Kagame and Spanish prime-minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to co-chair the MDG Advocacy group.

Unfortunately for Stephen Rapp and others at the State Deparment, Lazare Kobagay was not convicted. The Lazare Kobagaya trial reminds me of the book of Esther in the bible in which her uncle Mordechai was falsely accused by high placed government official Haman. The Lazare Kobagaya trial stresses the truth of Martin Luther King's famous words:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere"
The US government did everything in it's power, invested all the resources at it's disposal into convicting an innocent man for public relations reasons. A script that could have been written for the popular Prison Break series.

A background case study by Omar Shahabudin McDoom on Rwanda's exit path from violence, gives a good overview of the context in which donors should devise their strategy. However Omar Shahabudin McDoom does not propose a strategy.

The "image laundering" ("latest twist in a long effort a image laundering") or "boots polishing" strategies are out-of-fashion, donors and State Department officials should get creative and soon. Now is not the time for shallow "business as usual" (MLK 6:50) Kagame-love-songs, of which today again an example by would-be US Ambassador to Rwanda Donald Koran (Is this the "change we can believe in" ??).

As Victoire Ingabire's FDU-Inkingi’s treasurer, Ms Alice Muhirwa @alicemuhirwa said this week in an interview with afrobeatradio:
"The international community has been supporting Rwanda, particularly in the aftermath of the genocide. In order to sustain the achievements and fruits of this support, it is important that they also get involved in the democratization process, and with human rights and freedoms in Rwanda.

They need to put pressure on the regime to release all political prisoners and to open up the political space. They should leave no stone unturned until Victoire and opposition leaders are set free. It is a shame to offer red carpet to oppressors and dictators. The strength of the international community needs to be seen, and now."

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