Kagame at the United Nations
President Paul Kagame has been on one of the numerous costly pilgrimages that he makes to the United States every year.
Last month he was among the several world leaders attending the annual rituals of the United General Assembly meetings. Besides photo-ops, Kagame has spoken at events in which he repeatedly argued that he merited a 99% vote in the last Presidential elections, paving the way to a life-Presidency.
At the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, he was visibly irked by questions relating to his human rights abuses, closure of political space, and a relentless lynching of his political opponents. At the Brookings Institution in Washington DC, he spoke on African Union Reforms Agenda which he has been tasked by his African peers to oversee.
Often, when under internal or external pressure to democratize, respect the rights of Rwanda’s citizens, and curb his belligerent behavior towards Rwanda’s neighbors, Kagame adopts the language of Africa’s common history, a common future, and collective self-reliance as advocated by distinguished Pan-Africanists like Marcus Garvey. W,E.B. Du Bois, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah and many others in continental Africa and the Diaspora.
Yet, despite his deceptive grandstanding, a fake vocabulary of nationalism, and Pan-Africanism, Kagame is a vicious dictator at home who has worked against Africa’s interests.
In Rwanda, he is responsible for running a brutal dictatorship, assassinating President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprian Ntaryamira of Burundi, slaughtering hundreds of thousands if not millions of Hutus, and pursuing them with vengeance into the Democratic Republic of Congo. Various UN reports, including a UN Mapping Report of 2010, documented war crimes, crimes against humanity, and even possible acts of genocide against Rwandan Hutu.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, credible reports of international NGO and human rights organizations have documented up to six million Congolese lives lost due to Kagame’s wars of aggression and plunders.
In Burundi, Kagame’s campaign of destabilization has left hundreds of thousands of ordinary Burundians camped in neighboring countries as refugees.
In his rule that spans almost two and a half decades, Kagame has had his army or its proxies fight Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and masterminded the assassination of President Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Inside and outside Africa, Kagame has distinguished himself with a shameless opportunism to support Western powers in their ill-considered regime change projects so as to win their favor and blind support.
In an article drafted for him on the advice of Ambassador Susan Rice in Washington DC and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair in London, Kagame wrote: “So it is encouraging that members of the international community appear to have learned the lessons of that failure. Through UN Resolution 1973, we are seeing a committed intervention to halt the crisis that was unfolding in Libya. From what the world saw on the sidelines of this conflict, had this action not been taken, the bombardment of that country’s towns and cities would have continued, Benghazi most likely would have borne the brunt of a furious administration, and hundreds of thousands of lives could well have been lost.
Given the over-riding mandate of Operation Odyssey Dawn to protect Libyan civilians from state-sponsored attacks, Rwanda can only stand in support of it. Our responsibility to protect is unquestionable – this is the right thing to do, and this view is backed with the authority of having witnessed and suffered the terrible consequences of international inaction.”
Earlier, in 2003, Kagame offered Rwanda alongside only three other African countries ( Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Angola) to become part of the “coalition of the willing” in support of the Bush-Blair Iraq project based on false intelligence of weapons of mass destruction.
Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein were obviously dictators with terrible human rights records. Their fate was sealed by Western powers not because of their alleged human rights abuses or weapons of mass destruction, but for other geo-strategic considerations that Kagame and tiny Rwanda were not part of. Ironically, if human rights abuses were a primary consideration, Kagame would have perished like Gaddafi or Hussein.
In peacekeeping operations in Africa’s trouble spots ( Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Mali) and beyond, Kagame’s exclusively Tutsi officers with grave human rights records have become the darling paid legions on behalf of US and other Western powers.
In his second of his six 1979 BBC Reith Lectures, “The African Condition,” the late Ali Mazrui, a distinguished African scholar stated that “among victims of sheer humiliation and contempt, Africans and people of African ancestry have suffered the most in modern history.”
No other known African ruler in remote or recent history has inflicted more humiliation and contempt on his fellow citizens and other Africans than Kagame. He survives and prospers not because he is national hero and Pan-Africanist, but because he works against his people and African interests.
Dr. Theogene Rudasingwa
Former Ambassador of Rwanda to the United States in Kagame’s administration
E-mail: [email protected]