Earlier in the year, Kagame’s biggest thorn in his side touched down in Kigali. And since then, it’s been nothing but a downward spiral for Kagame. A self-identified Hutu, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza went to challenge Kagame and the RPF for the presidency of Rwanda. She was attacked by a mob, had her goods stolen (and returned), and her party was prevented from registering to take part in the elections. She was put on house arrest, and was subsquently placed in a maximum security prison, where she remains today. The other presidential hopeful, Bernard Ntaganda of the party PS-Imberakuri was also arrested, along with dissident Deo Mushayidi. Left and right news papers were closed down, writers, editors, and publishers exiled, and even murdered. An American law professor and ICTR lawyer was arrested in Rwanda but eventually released due to diplomatic pressures. He is now wanted back in Rwanda “Dead or Alive.’ Eventually, an “election” did take place, where Kagame of RPF ran against himself and won against himself with a 93% of the vote. In a bizarre move, a war crimes prosecutor, attended his inauguration, and not for reasons you might expect, but to attempt to gather heads of states against another African war criminal. Among his other bizarre and ironic guests were Congolese President Kabila. And that was all just inside Rwanda.
Though Rwanda, Kagame, and the RPF were being reckless (a very generous term) within the country, the story abroad was another matter. When Kagame visited a Oklahoma Christian University in the USA he was not only met with demonstrators, but was served with a lawsuit for his crimes in Rwanda and Congo. He allegedly had to take a back door route to get into the university due to the demonstrators. When he visited Spain in the middle of the Summer, the Prime Minister of Spain Zapatero not only refused to meet with him but he was met with a crowd of protesters as well. In August, a UN Mapping Report document the most serious violations to take place in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003 was leaked to the press. The Report alleged that Rwandan troops may have committed “possible genocide” within DRC during that period. The same report was later released in October, alleging the same crimes. In September, a Spanish delegation arrived to protest Kagame’s Millenium Goals co-chairship with the Spanish president Zapatero. When he went to Europe for the European Development Days, Kagame was met with a fervor of protestors, passionately demonstrating against his crimes in crimes in Central Africa. Kagame was so humiliated he left without giving his planned speech. The Netherlands withheld their aid from Rwanda, driving home the point that it is not alright for criminals to be rewarded. And finally, a French judge filed charged against Kagame’s allies.
It was a quiet year for Back To My Roots, but a very big one for hits against Kagame, his army, and his party’s reputation, integrity, and credibility. The furor is abundant. And though he continues to receive support from his western “friends” their blind support only serves to reinforce their complicity in his crimes.
Here is to an even stronger year ahead for progress against Kagame’s RPF their associates. It’s a lot of work, but the momentum is building.
Related: 2008 Year in Review