Rwanda: Will Our Children Live In A Democratic Society?
Rwanda has hardly ever existed without a dictatorship that ends in violence. Post-independence is indicative of this tragedy. The Gergoire Kayibanda regime was overthrown by General Juvénal Habyarimana in 1973. Most members of Kayibanda government were systematically killed by the new regime. Since then the army has been the most powerful force in Rwandan political life. Habyarimana power grab via a coup d’état can therefore be said to have set a future course in which authoritarian rulers build a façade of legitimacy—to obscure the true nature of dictatorship. The civil war in 1990-1994, the violent end of Habyarimana and his regime and genocide in 1994 ushered in a new dictatorship led by General Paul Kagame. The 2003 constitution written under Kagame supervision grants him absolutist powers which he uses to rule Rwanda with an iron-fist. Genuine opposition is either in prison, killed or in exile. Today's iron-fisted rule makes Habyarimana's dictatorship seem like a democratic dispensation. Is Rwanda doomed to remain a dictatorship? We don’t think so. Rwandans like other peoples demand and deserve democracy whose key characteristics include free and fair elections and the impartial enforcement of laws.
Most Rwandans would no doubt like to see Rwanda emerge someday as a prosperous, and democratic republic. To be sure, the near-term future looks unpromising. The things required for genuine and broad-based development—rule of law, a well-regulated financial system, transparency of wealth, a strong commitment to science and education—are in short supply. Even much of private sector activities are controlled by ruling elite, the Rwandan Patriotic Front. But we cannot accept the notion that the current state is a permanent one where a nation of 12 million people will continue to suffer forever....
• We reject the idea that post-independence political dictatorship is the way of life for Rwanda forever.
• We reject the idea that removal of a regime in Rwanda must plunge the country into chaos.
• We reject the idea that Rwandans will remain bystanders while our rulers determine our fate.
Join us in our nonpartisan network of Rwandan organizations and individuals to engage in genuine dialogue on the future of our country. We are not nor do we wish to become a political party nor do we seek any future office in Rwanda. We are a platform for engaging in constructive discussion of our future. Debate is extremely important to our survival as a people. Talking about issues and trying to figure out how to solve them, makes the World, including Rwanda, go round. Discussion clarifies, and makes it easier for people to handle issues when they arise. Debate has been used for millennia as a way of changing cultural norms, laws and even mindsets. We are not an exception to that rule.
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