The latest in the lead-up to Monday's presidential elections:
- The Guardian's coverage of Rwanda has been outstanding these last few months. Be sure to read this excellent piece on the Rwandan government's PR firm and its efforts to burnish the country's image. By all accounts, Rwanda's government is very confused as to why the international media has turned against their narrative of peace and prosperity this year. Problem is, the facts don't lie.
- Also from the Guardian's Observer, here's a useful piece noting the very real support Kagame enjoys in the country, as well as the tension over his rule. It would be a mistake to think that Kagame won't garner votes next week on the basis of his accomplishments - he will.
- Kigali Wire goes to a Liberal Party election rally, where so-called supporters (wearing the party's shirts) tell him they'll be voting for Kagame. Ahem.
- Here's a safety alert for reporters covering the election that makes Rwanda sound much more dangerous than it actually is, but is generally helpful. My advice for anyone covering the story? Don't leave your laptop unattended or unprotected by a password. Ever.
- Rwanda's government blames foreign-based dissidents for the series of what appear to be politically-motivated killings that have happened in recent months.
- Kagame keeps it classy: "Whoever does not like the Rwanda way of democracy should go and hang."
- And, finally, the bad news: dissident Patrick Karegeya called for violent uprising against Kagame in an interview with Uganda's Observer. Kagame struck back with yet another of what was perhaps not an ideal quote to come from the mouth of a man who's trying to burnish his international image: "All those who want war, we'll give them war."
- Victoire Ingabire, who, had she been allowed to run, would be holding actual opposition rallies not staged by the RPF, said she believes that "the country is getting closer to the brink of chaos." While that may be a bit of an overstatement, there's no question that the period after these elections will be tense. Karegeya isn't kidding around; he and Kayumba Nyamwasa have been calling for violence against Kagame for some time now.
- I've said it before and I'll say it again: the best way to prevent this kind of violence - which would have devastating consequences and would most likely spill over into North Kivu - is not through a crackdown on dissent, but rather by allowing true political freedom and honest and open dialogue about the many issues simmering under the surface in Kigali. This election isn't doing much to assure Rwanda-watchers that that's going to happen.