Rwandan President Paul Kagame and US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power
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Both Rwandan and Congolese Americans and other members of the Rwandan and Congolese diaspora have for years asked the United States to stop supporting the military dictatorship of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Kagame’s rule in Rwanda is famously ironfisted and his invasion, massacres and plunder in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been well documented in more than 20 years of U.N. investigations.
Earlier this week, in a U.N. press conference, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power called upon Rwandan President Paul Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017. She said, "We expect President Kagame to step down at the end of his term in 2017. President Kagame has an opportunity to set an example for a region in which leaders seem too tempted, again, to view themselves as indispensable to their own country’s trajectories."
In June, the U.S. State Department said that it would not support another term for President Kagame. Ambassador Power’s statement seemed even more significant because she is a longstanding supporter of Kagame.
Power built her career on “Bystanders to Genocide,” an article she wrote for the Atlantic Monthly in September 2001, in which she decried U.S. failure to intervene to stop the massacres in Rwanda in 1994. She expanded on that article in her Pulitzer Prize winning book, “A Problem from Hell; America in the Age of Genocide,” in which she asked the question, “Why do American leaders who vow ‘never again’ repeatedly fail to stop genocide?”
As a member of the National Security Council, she is credited with convincing President Obama that the U.S. was morally obliged to join the NATO war on Libya to “stop the next Rwanda.”
Rwanda’s President Kagame has long been shielded by his powerful friends, including Samantha Power and Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Howard Buffett and Rev. Rick Warren, but Power’s statement suggests that Kagame’s attempt to cling to power beyond 2017 exceeds the limits of support he can demand from the West. The European Union also objected to Kagame’s attempt to cling to power by revising the Rwandan constitution.
Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.


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