Kagame is Rwanda's one and only, says Ambassador

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Last week in Burundi, a rebel force assassinated two of President Pierre Nkurunziza's top army officers and tossed grenades at an army hospital, injuring four. In neighboring Rwanda President Paul Kagame continues to claim that the constitutional referendum allowing him to stay in power until at least 2034 is the people's will. In Uganda, presumed President-elect Dr. Kizza Besigye remains under house arrest, as he has since February 18 elections, while President General Yoweri Museveni continues his 30th year in power. In governors elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Joseph Kabila has consolidated control of local government that will make it easier for him to hold onto power in the November election, even though he is constitutionally barred from another term. 
 
At last week's UN Security Council meeting on the African Great Lakes Region, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power criticized the presidents of all four countries for clinging to power. Rwanda's Ambassador, Richard-Eugene Gasana, responded with this argument for Rwandan exceptionalism: 
 
"First of all I think and I hope she won't confuse her name with her assignment. Mrs. Power doesn't have power on Rwanda. In reaction to her remarks, we need, first of all, to caution her in lumping together the approaches of the four countries. There is no one size fits of all solutions pointing to the challenges the region is confronted with. While we comment, we comment her remarks as to the positive trajectory achieved by Rwanda, in economic and social fields and in Rwanda, playing a key role in maintaining peace and security at the international arena. There is a need, there is a need to emphasize here that Rwanda's achievement did not occur, did not occur in a vacuum. Indeed, the success Rwanda encountered stemmed from many factors including good governance and an enlightened leadership led by His Excellency President Paul Kagame that put together, singlehandedly, solutions tailored to the Rwandan situation in the immediate aftermath of the genocide against the Tutsi." 
 
Gasana then decried the UN Security Council for failing to intervene to stop the genocide in Rwanda in 1994: 
 
"You were on the Security Council in 1994. On a daily basis, having ten, over 10,000 people killed. What have you done? Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. We want this man there. He was the only one to take his responsibility and come and stop the genocide. He is our hero. "
 
Kagame's claim to have stopped the genocide has been challenged by a long list of academics, journalists, ICTR defense lawyers, and even the BBC. And, General Kagame's former chief of staff, Theogene Rudasingwa, has said that, in 1994, their public position was to call for UN intervention but their private position, in conversation with top US officials, was to oppose an intervention because it might have stopped them from concluding their four year war by seizing power in Rwanda. 
 
Gasana praised Rwandan democracy and claimed that Kagame is the people's choice:
 
"That well-tested system has prompted the people to keep this very precious man, the president we have today, namely President Kagame, at the helm of the nation."
 
After insisting that the UN Security Council and the US Ambassador must stay out of Rwandan affairs, Gasana said that they would lose relevance if they failed to intervene on the ground in Burundi. 
 
"With unfolding events in Burundi, of course and elsewhere, it is inevitable for the Security Council to try to improve its record in fully understanding early warning signs of conflict and responding through early action, if it has to remain relevant. While there has been a huge increase in the level of international preventive diplomacy and diplomatic peacemaking, for the most part by the United Nations, and more recently in partnership with regional organizations, these efforts will remain inadequate if they are not followed up by concrete actions on the ground."
 
David Himbara, Kagame's former economic advisor and part of the opposition in exile, responded with a comic essay titled: "Rwanda: Our Banana Republic's Minister-Ambassador at the UN Goes Bananas,"  "For Gasana," Himbara wrote, "there is no Rwanda but Kagame. For him Kagame is the state and the state is Kagame. For Kagame, Gasana is his personal assistant who looks after his interests and family affairs in the United States. The two men symbolize the worst of personality cults."

 

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