from a mile away
Oh, New Times of Rwanda, you never cease to amuse. Today's op-ed ( to the Times' credit, it is clearly labeled as opinion) manages in spectacular fashion to tenuously "link" opposition presidential candidate Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire, Human Rights Watch, and two Catholic priests to the FDLR. It's an interesting study in the ways that a few facts (Namely, that the FDLR gets significant amounts of funding from abroad, France hasn't arrested all of the genocidaires living in its territory, and minerals flow in and out of the DRC with little regulation) can be so misconstrued as to construct an alternate reality. Glenn Beck would be proud.
An alternate reality, of course, is what the New Times' RPF backers need if they're to maintain the idea that Rwanda cannot safely be governed by anyone else. Rwanda's leaders are aware that the donors are watching this election more closely than the last two. They aren't able to lock the opposition out of the country as they've done in the past. Thus, the next six months will be full of poorly researched "news" pieces, bizarre security incidents designed to scare the population, and thinly-veiled verbal attacks on the credibility of anyone who dares question the RPF's narrative of life in post-genocide Rwanda.
The real shame in Rwanda is that the RPF could run a clean campaign on a solid platform. After all, they've restored peace and stability, significantly developed the economy, and improved the provision of public goods over the course of the last sixteen years. Would they win? It seems unlikely; they represent a minority of a minority in a place where ethnic tensions are still incredibly high, despite rhetoric of reconciliation. But the opposition lacks a record of success and wouldn't have much to campaign on, other than the "We're not the RPF" line they're using now. It seems to me that a true coalition government of RPF and non-RPF members would do much to restore the Rwandan people's faith that the government exists for all Rwandans rather than for just a few.