Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"My job has not been to create an opposition"

The international community should carefully listen to the way Paul Kagame expresses himself in public, it gives important information on his political method. He often speaks in riddles which need solving.

On the day (words gain their specific meaning through context and timing) that the assassinated vice-president of Rwandan Greens, André Kagwa Rwisereka, was burried, Paul Kagame did not express his regret or extended his condolences as did Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. No, he made this widely published  and ambiguous statement:
"My job has not been to create an opposition, my job is to create the environment where legitimate things can happen."
The ambiguity of this statement is intentional. The statement can be interpreted in a lot of ways and can mean a lot of things. We have seen  this same strategy employed when he talked about "those leaving  the country are like human waste" a couple of months ago. He made a statement in public that could mean that he intended to kill Kayumba Nyamwasa (and the former General's wife clearly understood it that way) but it could also mean something else. The third example where Paul Kagame talks in riddles is from the interview  where Stephen Sackur grills him on the attack in april 1994 against the former Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi:
"Stephen Sackur: But you didn’t have a right to shoot down his plane and to assassinate him
President Paul Kagame: Well I had a right to fight for my rights!
Stephen Sackur: But do you believe you had a right to assassinate him?
President Paul Kagame: No, but first Habyarimana, having been on the other side that I was fighting, it was possible that he could easily die. Imagine if I had died myself in the same process? Would the same judge be asking about my death or who killed me?"
The  reason he uses these riddles is simple: Paul Kagame is  speaking to two audiences at the same time. His friends in the UK and the US who want to portray him as a "beacon of hope for Africa", but also his own RPF.

On the one hand, in the US and UK people like Hillary Clinton and Frederick Kempe can claim that indeed Kagame never said he killed opponents and that this statement only means that Rwandan civil society is still fragile after the genocide, that democracy is more then just opposition parties.

On the other hand, in Rwanda the RPF can claim, based on this statement, that it's proud leader doesn't care what the international community thinks. That the definition of what is "legitimate" is made by one man: Paul Kagame. And that in that context he is proud to have given orders to kill André Kagwa Rwisereka, and that he won't hesitate for one second to do it again if deemed necessary.

More tomorrow on how the State Department   Lacks Consistency  when it talks about democracy.

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