The results are in from Rwanda’s presidential election, during which many voters said they felt intimidated and the Opposition candidates were weak or restricted. Ten years into the job, President Paul Kagame has been re-elected to another seven years:
Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame, who has been in control of this country since 1994 and helped resurrect it from genocide into one of the most orderly nations in Africa, appeared to have been re-elected on Monday by a staggering margin, according to partial election results released early Tuesday.
Mr. Kagame won 93 percent of the votes cast in 11 out of 30 districts, the National Election Commission said, and total countrywide results were expected by the end of the day.
Anyone who tries to tell me that this was free and fair is either stupid or willfully blind. Nobody wins elections with 93% of the vote in a true democracy.
In my series on the abuses of the Kagame government and the RPF over the past two decades, I wrote:
With very close ties to the United States government and military, President Paul Kagame has been able to get away with many things, in large part because he liberated Rwanda from the extremist Hutu dictatorship that was precisely carrying out a genocide against the Tutsi minorities. It’s pretty hard to criticize the person that finally ended one of the very worst genocides of the 20th century, after over 900,000 people had been systematically murdered nationwide, with the world watching and doing nothing.
Yes, he did a heroic, monumental thing in his life once. I recognize that. But it’s not a lifetime get-out-of-blame card.
Who really believes that just because you’ve stopped a genocide in progress and upgraded your country’s infrastructure (to have fast internet and good roads) means you should be permanently shielded from criticism, despite committing numerous atrocities of your own, repressing freedom, assassinating political enemies across a continent, abducting children, and arresting foreign lawyers who represent your opponents?
I explained in my second post why I am so intent on exposing the RPF’s abuses:
I raise this not to minimize the horrors committed by their Hutu genocidaire opponents … but because it is important that we confront all the facts — not just those that make one side play the pure villains and the other side the untainted heroes. The world does not divide evenly like that.
Some people still think it does.
Editorial note: This post was originally published (in a longer form) at Starboard Broadside. It was moved here and cut down in June 2015.