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AfricanVoice Global

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Opinion & Analysis

Rwanda’s genocide: Between Hutu majority and dictatorship


Inwalomhe Donald

Though Kagame is facing little opposition in elections as his reign extends through the years, only time will tell if the Rwandan example of dictatorship and development proves an enduring model or a one-time fluke. The genocide ended after a group of Tutsi exiles, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), gained control of Rwanda and established a government headed by Pasteur Bizimungu.

    The leader of the RPF was a young Tutsi military commander named Paul Kagame, who subsequently became president in 2000 after forcing Bizimungu out of government. As Kagame’s second term neared an end, he proposed a referendum, which allowed him to run for a third and fourth and fifth term as Hutu majority watched helplessly. In 2015, 98.3 percent of the country voted in favor of extending his term limit. Needless to say, elections in Rwanda are fixed. Kagame’s tight control over the electoral process makes it virtually impossible for him to lose an election. Yet the country’s lack of democracy does not mean that Kagame is just another ineffective dictator clinging to power.

There is need for a political strategy to stop future genocide in Rwanda. President Kagame lacks political foresight to prevent future genocide in Rwanda. I am appealing to President Paul Kagame to adopt rotational presidency to solve the problem of dictatorship, Hutu majority and Tutsi minority in post Rwanda genocide. I am surprise that President Kagame has not resolved the issue of Hutu majority that led to 1994 Rwanda genocide after more than 19 years in power. Let Kagame listen to the voice of majority in Rwanda. Recent tension between Rwanda and Uganda has exposed that there is no strategy in place to prevent future genocide in Rwanda because major issue that led to genocide has not be addressed. Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda, as well as between Rwanda and Burundi, “are reaching an alarming level” and “could lead to another proxy conflict in eastern Congo,” According to analysis by the South Africa-based think tank Institute for Security Studies. In recent years Rwanda also has sparred with Burundi over charges that Burundian rebels are based across the border in Rwanda.

Uganda’s president recently denied support for rebels opposed to Rwanda’s government as tensions between the two East African neighbors persist, raising fears of a possible armed conflict. In a letter to Rwandan President Paul Kagame published in government-controlled media, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that “there is no question of Uganda supporting anti-Rwanda elements.”

Both presidents have recently made remarks seen as threatening to each other, with the Ugandan leader warning that “those who try to destabilize our country do not know our capacity” and Rwanda’s president countering that “nobody anywhere can bring me to my knees.” Rwanda’s government has closed a busy border crossing with Uganda, and Rwanda’s government has ordered its citizens not to travel to Uganda.

Worsening Relations that could lead to another genocide On March 5, 2019 however, poor relations between Uganda and Rwanda come to a head after the Rwandan foreign minister, Richard Sezibera, held a press conference outlining Rwanda’s concerns with Uganda. He briefly closed the border with Uganda and advised Rwandans residing in Uganda to leave immediately. He accused Uganda of arresting Rwandans, disrupting regional trade and of providing support and space for anti-Rwanda groups. Uganda has denied all the allegations.

The final accusation is the most problematic, as the minister specifically accused Uganda of supporting groups such as the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Both organisations are perceived by Rwandan officials to be dangerously intent on overthrowing the current RPF government and bringing back the ethnic divisions that haunted Rwanda prior to the genocide.

Uganda is not the only country to have been accused of supporting these organisations. Tanzanian president Jakaya Kikwete hosted RNC and FDLR leaders in 2013 and 2014, and Rwanda has also accused Burundi and its president, Pierre Nkurunziza, of sympathising with the FDLR and providing them with public legitimacy.  These recent diplomatic problems are nothing unusual, but the rhetoric has started to move up a gear. During the annual National Leadership Retreat, also known as “Umwiherero”, Kagame said of the mounting crisis with Uganda: President Kagame dictatorship has not resolved the possibility of future genocide in Rwanda. United Nations should act now to resolve the problem of Hutu majority that are being treated as minority in Rwanda.

As long as the Hutu majority in Rwanda is continuously being treated as minority, the problem that led to genocide has not been solved in Rwanda. The Hutu majority is treated like minority in Rwanda even after the genocide. The people of Hutu need a voice and this is the key concern in Rwanda that President Kagame reform has no solved. With Tutsi rebels continuing to fight in the former Zaire and Hutus waging guerilla battles in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi, the ethnic strife that sparked the slaughters in Rwanda continue to infect the region. The Rwandan genocide, also known as the genocide against the Tutsi, was a mass slaughter of Tutsi in Rwanda during the Rwandan Civil War, which had started in 1990. It was directed by members of the Hutu majority government during the 100-day period from 7 April to mid-July 1994.

The bloody history of Hutu and Tutsi conflict stained the 20th century, from the slaughter of 80,000 to 200,000 Hutus by the Tutsi army in Burundi in 1972, to the 1994 Rwanda genocide. In just 100 days during which Hutu militias targeted Tutsis, between 800,000 and 1 million people were killed. Colonial rule, which began in the late 19th Century, did little to bring the groups together. The Belgians, who ruled what would later become Rwanda and Burundi, forced Hutus and Tutsis to carry ethnic identity cards. The colonial administrators further exacerbated divisions by only allowed Tutsis to attain higher education and hold positions of power.

When Yoweri Museveni, a rebel leader of Tutsi descent, seized power in Uganda in 1986, it was largely through the assistance of Rwandan Tutsis. With a power base in Uganda, the Rwandan Tutsis formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front and began attacks against the Hutu-led government. After years of fighting, the Rwandan government launched a genocidal campaign against Tutsis living in Rwanda. According to reports, over 800,000 people were slaughtered over a period of 100 days.Eventually, the tide turned against the Hutus and the Rwanda Patriotic Front defeated the Rwandan Army, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee, mostly to Tanzania and Zaire.

    In the letter published in the Ugandan newspaper The New Vision, Museveni acknowledged he recently met with a member of the Rwanda National Congress who spoke of “bad things” happening in Rwanda and who “wanted us to support them.” Museveni also met separately with an exiled Rwandan tycoon, Tribert Rujugiro, who is accused by Rwandan authorities of financing rebels opposed to Kagame, according to Museveni’s letter to Kagame.

Donald writes from Kampala, Uganda. This story first appeared in The Sun.

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