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Why Rwanda’s sham elections must be stopped

July 20, 2010

Rwanda yearns for true democracy and reconciliation

by Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, Chair, FDU INKINGI

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, president of the FDU Inkingi Party, speaks to the press.
After 16 years in exile, I came back peacefully to my motherland.

Peace will be my guiding light in my political activities and the activities of my political organization, FDU INKINGI, in our endeavor to end injustice and remove all barriers to the people’s full enjoyment of their inalienable political and civil rights.

The Rwandan people are now living in anxiety and fear and are longing and yearning for a genuine policy of national unity and reconciliation.

My party and I are engaged in a political struggle which will lead us to victory against all forms of injustice and [for] genuine democracy based on the freedom of each and every one. We will soon witness sham elections in which election results are already established to hoodwink the world that the people have been given a choice. The main preoccupation [of the incumbent] is to cling to power that has been seized through the force of arms.

The bell tolls for the chains of the dictatorship. It is time for Rwandans to claim their inalienable rights, to refuse the abject feeling of being despised. Our response to sham elections is a non-violent resistance to challenge the legitimacy of the looming masquerade and its subsequent results.

Our core objective is to put a permanent end to dictatorship and put in place a political system that respects and protects all the components of the Rwandan society to make sure that nobody loses life because of one’s ethnic or regional affiliation or because of one’s political opinion.

This has been our political objective since the creation of our party FDU INKINGI.

This has been the guiding principle of my political engagement since I arrived until now. We must tame fear in order to liberate ourselves. We want to eradicate poverty, hunger, nepotism, corruption and clientelism which have become the hallmark of the regime. We want to put an end to social inequalities, to discrimination as well as to confiscation of other people’s property and land.

Leading presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza listens to the people in the countryside.
We are fighting against dictatorship, generalized injustices, the iniquitous Gacaca courts, community work punishments imposed without due process of the law. We want that each Rwandan walks with his head high, with dignity; we want to break all the barriers that prevent us from feeling full citizens of our country.

With regard to education, we want to improve the quality, to match the curriculum of education to the real needs of the country and our region and [to] enhance the competitiveness of the country vis-à-vis other countries, the respect of the teacher, availability of school material and equal access to education irrespective of social class, ethnicity or region.

In the field of health, our motto will be “health for all” by improving the health care infrastructure, access to medical care, the availability and quality of health personnel, equipment and medicine. The welfare of the population will be our priority in our program. Every job must regain its value and provide a decent salary. In the rural areas, people must get decent shelter and safe drinking water.

The agricultural policy must ensure that people get enough food security and give more value and dignity to farmers. Our political program has a national reach. Our political program is a matter of every Rwandan, irrespective of his ethnic origin, regional, gender, religion, profession or social class. Our vision of a reconciled people involves the necessity to remember our loved ones, mutual respect, national dialogue, the protection of minorities and equal opportunity.

We call on each one of us to empathize with victims of genocide and crimes against humanity. We encourage the members of the Rwandan Defense Forces, police and security forces to remain professional in their work and to desist from getting involved in partisan politics. Our call goes also to the public media, to the public service, to local administration and to members of the judiciary.

Even in my captivity, six months after my arrival in the country, my experience on the ground has given more meaning to my political conviction and commitment for fundamental political change. I am convinced more than ever before that Rwanda needs a different kind of leadership and political direction for the best interest and welfare of all Rwandan citizens.

I witnessed with my own eyes humiliation, injustices, iniquity, dictatorship and the arrogance of the party in power that its zealots and allies impose on the citizens. My comrades in the struggle and myself have endured and still endure both moral and physical abuses from the regime of Kagame. Our rights and rights of many others have been violated.

Political parties, members of the Permanent Consultative Council of the Opposition have been subjected to an increasing persecution. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is still mourning the assassination of its Vice President M. André Kagwa Rwisereka that took place on the 13th of July 2010 and his beheaded body found on the 14th July 2010. The party has been thwarted in its attempts to register and its leadership has been receiving death threats.

The Parti Social IMBERAKURI, although it has been registered, has been split into two wings, with one splinter group allied to the regime in power. The founder, President Bernard Ntaganda, is in detention since the 24th June 2010, charged with negation of genocide, divisionism and formation of a terrorist group. His private secretary, M. Aimable Sibomana Rusangwa, has disappeared since the 13th of June 2010.

FDU Inkingi Committee
The party FDU INKINGI, not yet registered, is also facing the fury of the dictatorship, and three members of its executive committee are either under house arrest or out on bail. Our efforts to legally register FDU INKINGI have been crushed. The regime erected administrative and legal barriers in order to ensure that genuine opposition is left in the cold. FDU INKINGI is too big to go through the net set by the regime in power. The fear of a serious competition for power has led the regime to reinforce its dictatorial machinery. An arsenal of anti-democratic laws has been put in place to seal off the political space.

Since January 2010, FDU INKINGI has submitted unsuccessfully six requests to organize its constituent assembly. The government refused. The official reason has always been based on the politically motivated criminal charges concocted against its chair and presidential candidate.

During the last five months, the regime has not been able to bring to court the full details of the charges brought against me. The allegations of denial of genocide, divisionism and collaboration with a terrorist organization are nothing more than a pretext to block all political activities. This is why I was arrested on the 21st of April 2010 and kept under house arrest since the following day. The zealots of the regime and the government press or partisan media have been feeding a lynching campaign.

My lawyers were put in detention. This was the case with Professor Peter Erlinder, defense lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who spent three weeks in prison and Mr. Theogene Muhayeyezu, who spent two weeks in prison.

On the 24th of June 2010, a police sweep was carried out against members of the opposition who wanted to demonstrate peacefully. Many members of the FDU INKINGI were arrested: M. Sylvain Sibomana, provisional secretary general of the party; Ms. Alice Muhirwa, treasurer; M. Théoneste Sibomana, responsible for the party in Kigali; and M. Martin Ntavuka, FDU Nyarugenge. All of them were tortured.

Ms. Alice Muhirwa endured internal bleeding following hits with boots on her stomach. She was denied medical attention until she fainted in court. During torture sessions, she was subjected to a tirade of verbal abuses relating to ethnic hatred. In the same way, the torturers blackmailed in exchange for signing false pre-established accusations against me and M. Bernard Ntaganda for collaboration with rebels of FDLR and for having received funding via accomplices network operating in Kigali, [the] capital city.

On the 24th of June 2010, many members of the FDU INKINGI were arrested. All of them were tortured.

In his testimony in court, the permanent secretary of PS IMBERAKURI confirmed that he was subjected to the same blackmail during the torture sessions.

We call on the government of Gen. Kagame to ensure the security of people is guaranteed and to bring to justice those responsible for torture, degrading and inhumane treatment of people as well as the use of racist and hateful language during torments.

The sham electoral process must stop without delay and the date of presidential election postponed, paving the way for opposition political parties to register and participate and for the political leaders to be cleared of the trumped criminal charges. An independent national electoral commission agreed on by all the stakeholders is a must.

The sham electoral process must stop without delay and the date of presidential election postponed, paving the way for opposition political parties to register and participate and for the political leaders to be cleared of the trumped criminal charges.

If the election calendar is maintained and the muzzling and decapitation of opposition political parties remain, then the presence of international observers is a useless exercise. The regime will rig the whole process and manipulate election registry, the turnout, the management of poll stations, the counting of votes and obviously will decide the results it wants.

Under these conditions, the Rwandan people must denounce the legitimacy of this masquerade until proper, transparent and equitable electoral process is conducted. The Rwandan people have been put under so much duress but are still very resilient.

They are still alive.

Resistance is not only an organization but the determination of a people to resist a dictatorship. We need an open public debate on national issues and different political programs. I expect our friends not to fail Rwanda again. We are a nation and not a private property of one man. Calmly and with determination we shall resist the violence and intimidation of the regime of Gen. Paul Kagame.

We shall make sure that the efforts of subjugating by force fail. We shall resist the efforts used to tarnish our image in order to exclude us. We shall resist the efforts to divide us and in order to subjugate us. We refuse to be taken hostages of the past of our country. Let us all be the tools for that change that we want by resisting the dictatorship. The bell tolls for change.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, chair of the FDU INKINGI Party, can be reached at Fdu.inkingi.rwa@gmail.com, through www.fdu-rwanda.org and www.victoire2010.com or by phone at 011-250-078583600. This story first appeared in the Black Star News, New York’s leading investigative newspaper.

Report on the runup to the election broadcast on KPFA News July 24

8 thoughts on “Why Rwanda’s sham elections must be stopped

  1. Cristi

    It amazing what politicians will do to paint themselves in a positive light. They seem to be totally unaware that the electorate have a sense of discernment, and can see through blatant attempts to hoodwink them for political gain. Take the case of Ms Ingabire Umuhoza. She says Peter Erlinder is her lawyer. This cannot not be true since Erlinder has never been cleared by the Rwanda Bar Association to practice in Rwanda…and as is the case the World over, a lawyer does not simply walk into a courtroom without proper registration. But let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Umuhoza chose Erlinder as her lawyer. That is reason enough for any Rwandan not to vote for her. It shows a terrible lack of understanding of post genocide Rwanda. Erlinder is a well known revisionist of genocide. He is head of an association of defence attorneys for suspects of genocide at the International Criminal Court for Rwanda, based in Arusha. This would not be problematic, except for the fact that Erlinder has used this position to revise, and sometimetimes deny and negate the genocide. Plus, the lawyers have indulged in shameful fee splitting with their clients. It may be a coincidence, but i doubt it. All the genocide deniers, revisionists, and negationists flock to Ms Ingabire Umuhoza. That is not political opposition, it verges on criminal association.

    Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is a past master of living at the margins of the truth. She is a former President of the RDR, a thinly disguised political front for the military forces and militia that committed genocide in Rwanda in 1994. She championed for the return of "refugees", knowing fully well that these were no refugees but armed militia men. She fell out with some of the military leaders of the group, not because they disagreed on political ideology, but because they didnt want her as leader. As the saying goes, if it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck. Ms Ingabire owe Rwandans an explanation!

    No wonder then that Ingabire says she is involved in a fight agaisnt Gacaca courts and the exercise of restorative justice, expressed through the confession and plea bargain process with concommittant reduction of sentence, as well Community work in lieu of incarceration for genocide perpetrators. She is savvy enough to know that the hundreds of thousands who participated in the genocide can never be processed through the classical justice system. This was the motto used by the organizers of genocide in 1994. They publicly called for all to participate because it would be impossible to judge an entire nation, as they claimed then. That the RPF has devised an ingenious solution to this justice dilemma, combining justice and reconciliation must be anathema to Ingabire and her ilk.

    I refuse to believe that opposition to the RPF is synonymous with criminality. That opposition politicians, must of necessity have iron clad links with the FDLR, a criminal organization. I choose to believe that Rwanda has now matured to the point at which Opposition Politicians can have a clear forward looking vision of society, not hanker to a divisive, destructive past. Unfortunately Ms Ingabire is mired into the politics of the past, and i suspect that past will catch up with her. By the time she realizes Rwandans have moved on, She will be left writhing on the dung heap of history.

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  2. Nzeyimana

    I reject the statement that "the past will catch up with Ms Ingabire "because her future is found in her prophetic statement "The rising sun of change is here" believe me this is not from Her but from Jehovah God and the rising sun must shine for God's sake.

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    1. eric

      Thank you criticism for your sound and mature analysis. Rwanda need wise ideas like yours. My brother and sisters of this forum. We all need to think for Rwandans all and I can see that we are all educated. We need to think of how we can eradicate numerous issues facing our country and propose constructive criticism and constructive solutions. You can not proclaim someone as leading candidate or famous opponent based on the fact that he or she use the sensational language. Let make a good analysis of our nation's needs and contribute ideas that build from what has been achieved.

      Reply
  3. KURIGUSA

    It' s really sad to see how " Cristi" , still hangs on " OLD" RPF' s NEW TIMES "PROPAGANDA against Victoire Ingabire and the UDF Inkingi…….NO one believes Your baseless, hatred, nonsense accusations anymore, I bet you dont believe it yourself neither……..
    Between Ingabire and RPF "high" members who owe Rwandans explanations??????????
    RPF's past has already started to catch up on" .." …GO ASK MR. Kagame, He was in Spain last week!
    Cristi, The message of Ingabire is clear, so quit the hatred propaganda and be ready….. because the Bell Tolls for Change in Rwanda…… .http://www.fdu-rwanda.org/fr/rwanda/detail/article/rwanda-the-bell-tolls-for-change/index.html

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  4. Claire Umurungi

    You start from the officially imposed idea by RPF that any one who challenges the official account of events of 1994 Rwandan conflict is a genocide denier or revisionist. That's how you and Kagame's RPF throw out accusations and arrest people with laws that you have twisted (Apartheid was also backed up with laws).

    In the aftermaths of the Rwandan genocide committed against the Tutsis the UN Security Council in its resolution #955 of November 1995 stated that both warring sides which were fighting for power in Rwanda i.e. the Habyarimana’s regime and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of Paul Kagame shared some responsibilities in the killings that took place in Rwanda. These killings have been divided into three categories, including: crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace.

    When Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza arrived in Rwanda after 16 years in exile, she recalled such a UN resolution to remind the Rwandan people that anyone who is responsible for any crime committed in Rwanda must face justice and that all victims deserve the right of memory for their loved ones who perished. Mrs. Ingabire also stressed that this is a necessary step for the sake of a genuine national reconciliation in Rwanda. Which divisionism or genocide ideology do you see in such statements?

    Since February 2010 Rwandan Police have been saying that they have irrefutable evidence showing that Victoire Ingabire collaborates with the FDLR group. Why have their failed to try her in court so far?

    If the FPR government intent was not to prevent registering the FDU-Inkingi political party she chairs and to keep her from running in the upcoming presidential elections, why would it take 5 months before trying her in court?

    Furthermore those military officers were arrested in Burundi in September 2009 for allegedly working for Ingabire, why didn’t they indict them immediately if it was true that they were suspected of preparing attacks against Rwanda when you know that the Rwandan law says that anybody who is arrested and provisionally jailed should be indicted within 72 hours?

    RDR started as a Refugee movement to advocate on their behalf regarding aid, Refugee rights and negotiate their peaceful return. if Kagame's RPF had not attacked a peacful country, such a 2 million people refugee crisis wouldn't have taken place and you wouldn't be calling these refugees "armed militia men"? (You seem to know about the refugee convention more that the United Nations HCR that granted them refugee status)

    When the Police interrogated Victoire about her collaboration with the FDLR they used the 2009 UN report where it says that she had a meeting with the FDLR. But when you look at the website of the NGO that convened that meeting (VeritasRwanda) you can clearly see that the meeting was also attended by FPR delegates. It is also clear that the conclusions of the meeting were all about problems facing Rwanda and their possible solutions. Why is it a crime for Victoire to attend the same meeting as RPF delegates? Do you by any chance also accuse your FPR delegates of the same crimes?

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  5. eric

    Who lied to you that you are leading candidate? what is your Experience compare to the 4 candidate? What are you branding as far as political programs, polices are concerned? You are bankrupt of ideas and spend your time whining instead of proving what you can achieve you just use ethnic divisions sensational language as the only weapon. how many Rwandans are hostage? may be you and your genocidal mother who killed babies

    Reply
  6. Cristi

    The comments in defence of Ms Ingabire simply reinforce my point. Those who believe Ingabire's statements are from Jehovah God have the right to their beliefs. However, such beliefs have no place in a political discourse!! In any case, the some of the FDLR attacks in the past used religious imagery. They were codenamed Alleluiah, Amen, and such, even as they massacred thousands of the innocent. Killing in the name of God is not a new phenomenon! Let me now turn to the issues raised Ms Umurungi. The UN has, in the past, passed resolutions on Rwanda that were not based on objective facts. Recall that in 1994, they called for a Ceasefire between the RPF and the Habyarimana regime, at the apogee of genocide. They talked of warring parties, when we all know, there was no such a thing, instead there were innocent victis, being hounded for the crime of being by the perpetrators. For Ingabire to lump genocide, war crimes, and crimes agaisnt humanity all in one basket is precisely an attempt to tar the RPF with the crimes of others, muddle the issues, and re write history. That is what I vehemently object to.
    I cannot comment on matters that are before courts of law, but I find the reasoning strange. That Ingabire is in court for 5 months? That is not strange at all. At the ICTR, trials last years. At the ICTY, Karadzick, Thomas Lubanga and others are there for years. Infact, for some of them, proper trials have not begun. In the Netherlands where Ingabire lived, it is not uncommon for trials to last for a year or more before sentence. Even in the United States, the right to a speedy trial has not been construed to mean sentence before a specific period. Some trials last for years. So what has happened to Ingabire is not unusual. By the way, Rwandan law does not say those indicted should be indicted within 72 hours. That obviously would be ridiculous! It says they should be brought before a magistrate within 72 hours. That I am told was respected in the case of the individuals connected to the Ingabire case.

    I am not privy to the Police interrogation of Ingabire. I dont know what evidence they have on Ingabire. However, I know that the RPF has never attended a meeting with the FDLR. You can take that to the bank. But Ingabire's association with the FDLR is not limited to a meeting. It spans decades, from her time in the RDR, through that group's association with ALIR1, ALIR2, FDLR and its successor organizations. Those are some of the ducks I alluded to earlier! I think it is crime to associate with these groups. However, I am not a prosecutor. What I am is an interested Rwandan voter, and I most definitely would be agaisnt a party that is sympathetic to the unreconstructed views of the FDLR.

    Finally, the RDR was not a Refugee movement. When I get the time, I shall share with all, the leadership and activities of the movement and trace its evolution. The camps in Eastern Zaire then were taken over by the Genocidal Government and the Interahamwe /Impuzamugambi genocide militia. The President of the genocidal government was in the " Refugee camps". So were members of Cabinet, the Military leadership, and the rank and file soldiers. I agree with one point though. The RDR wanted a negotiated return of the "refugees", which was code then for inclusion of the MRNDD/CDR in the post genocide Government. I am glad that position was rejected and the RPF returned all the refugees to their country, as you know. The obscurantism in Ms Ingabire's political discourse in the 1990"s is the same today. Then She used the term refugees to mean armed political activists, today she uses the term "all victims" to mean that there was not one genocide but two in 1994. When she says so, standing at the memorial to those who perished in the 1994 genocide, it is not only in bad taste, but is unacceptable to me, and I suspect, the millions of other Rwandans. This is not RPF propaganda as you imply, it is my considered opinion.

    Reply
  7. Nzeyimana

    Man or Woman of the soil , I do not defend anybody . I have simply rejected your Indirect judgement which can be dangeous if not withdrown.Believe it or not , the statement has lost its power forever and ever.At the same time , I thank you for reminding me that your Creator has no place in RPF politics.I say AMEN to that.Pharaoh in Egypt was chosen for God's glory. Wait and see.
    Concerning FDLR, you sound like you were one of them or you met somewhere . As for me, I refuse to wash my hand with people' blood.

    For those who do the killings in the Name of God , I understand they are there but they are very few . Those acts should bring durable peace within the country, sorrow follows not and people rejoice in the death of the wicked man.However ,The killings done in the name of satan through the name of a demon in a human form.It doesn' t matter who does it and in which circumstances; sorrow, and all kind of sufferings follow.In this case , a curse is upon the killers.
    Finally , I' m sending you to Ms Ingabire and President Kagame to stop the killings of our fellow Rwandans NOW.

    Reply

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