"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

9.20.2010

who didn't see this one coming?

Just a reminder that today I'll be live blogging from TEDxChange with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The event starts at 11am EST; you can watch the livestream here.

In the meantime, we've got a new topic for discussion: the independent Rwanda News Agency reports that Rwanda's Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana, has put forward a bill that would amend the country's constitution to end presidential term limits. This would, of course, leave the door open for President Paul Kagame to remain in power beyond 2017, when the current, 2003 constitution expires. If you didn't see that one coming from a mile away, well, you must've been looking the other direction.

26 Comments:

Blogger bankelele said...

surely it would have been better to use an eminent independent MP to introduce and articulate the need for such a bill, which the government would then support, rather that than the security minister

Monday, September 20, 2010 1:26:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How long has the Queen been on the Throne? How long can a British prime minister occupy the role? One term ... two terms...? Or is there no limit?

You do realize that the concept of presidential term limits were introduced by Wall Street banking interests opposed to the popularity and effectiveness of Franklin D Roosevelt. Now these limits have been turned into the ne plus ultra of democracy! (Which means that countries with Westminster systems of government, like Canada, Britain, Australia, etc., are not and never have been democratic!)

If a country's constitution has a provision for it to be amended, then what's the problem with the constitution being followed accordingly and amendments being proposed for a vote?! If the amendment is accepted, then so be it, if rejected, then so be it. I don't see where the problem lies.

Monday, September 20, 2010 3:47:00 AM

 
Blogger Rachel said...

shocking just shocking.

Monday, September 20, 2010 7:17:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous It's a problem because leaders who know they will be out of power in a few years govern very differently to leaders who expect to be in power forever. When you think you are going to be in power forever, you give yourself as much power as you can get. When you know someone else will be in power next year, you make sure there are mechanisms to protect the country from abuses of power.

The Queen is a symbolic figure head with no real power, and the British Prime Minister, being subject to a real democracy usually doesn't stand much chance of making it beyond two terms.

Regardless of whether or not you think Kagame is the best leader for Rwanda... you know that if there was a free election tomorrow, Kagame would not be president anymore

Monday, September 20, 2010 10:19:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you know that if there was a free election tomorrow, Kagame would not be president anymore"

Oh, c'mon! That's complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit! Only a genocidaire fugitive, or one of their groupies in the NGO community, could say something like that with a straight face! Pretty desperate, willfully delusional stuff!

Monday, September 20, 2010 11:54:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Oh, c'mon! That's complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit! Only a genocidaire fugitive, or one of their groupies in the NGO community, could say something like that with a straight face! Pretty desperate, willfully delusional stuff!"

These sorts of arguments are utterly ineffective outside of rwanda. It's bizarre to me that you guys don't realize that. You could be doing so much better! Here is something that might work- Regardless of what drove them to do it, >90% of the citizens voted for Kagame, and there is no reason to suspect that they would not do it again if they were to vote again tomorrow.

There are obviously many people dedicated to responding to posts in forums such as this one, but few have much to offer beyond ad hominem attacks. Your dedication suggests that you might be supporting something valuable, but you never really share any of the reasons for your support. When you refuse to provide facts or reason, you come off as a sycophantic fool. You look bad, and you make those you support look bad.

I love rwanda. And for all his faults and probable crimes, I support kagame. This country is a pressure cooker and given the circumstances some temporary extraordinary means are acceptable. I believe that he still has Rwanda's interests at heart, that he has the discipline to see the country's development become self-sustaining. It's sad to see him defended so poorly.

This is a good start. That's a direction that might work.

I do have to say, though, that if he allows the removal of term limits (a last check against the total corruption of a republic), then he is more short sighted than I expected. If the republic's institutions are not stronger than kagame, when kagame goes the republic will cease to be.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 1:48:00 AM

 
Anonymous Muzungu said...

The sad reality is that people would vote on ethnic lines if given the chance. If Ingabire had been allowed to run - she would have won.

Now you can argue that that is evidence that Rwanda is not ready for real democracy, but don't be so naive as to think that Rwanda is a real democracy, because in real democracy a citizen can vote on whatever basis they want.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 2:01:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...if he allows the removal of term limits (a last check against the total corruption of a republic)..."

That's a patently idiotic thing to say. According to your logic, the presidency of Franklin D Roosevelt was responsible for the corruption of the American republic!

Another dictatorship for you would be Australia, which had Sir Robert Menzies serve for 16 years consecutively as prime minister, and 18 years in total when we include his first term! So Australia has evidently suffered a "complete corruption" of its society! I'm sure there's plenty more of such examples.

Thinking the way you do is a pretty stupid way to think, not to mention hyperbolic ("total corruption of a republic"!). Besides, it's not for Kagame to "decide" on this but rather the people who vote on the amendment of the constitution. If constitutions, to avoid their "complete corruption", cannot be amended, then one wonders what the fate of the "African-Americans would have been. Perhaps you would have preferred that they remain in slavery, so that the American republic does not suffer "complete corruption" and retains its immutable beauty and glow of of static permanence.

The decision will remain with Rwandans, and that's they way it should be. Swallow hard and accept that.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 4:49:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The sad reality is that people would vote on ethnic lines if given the chance. If Ingabire had been allowed to run - she would have won."

People will vote for violence and bloodshed over peace and development? Is that what makes democracy so worthwhile? The people ought to be the power to govern because they are competent to govern? If they can't be trusted to be competent to govern, ought they be given the opportunity to govern -- to descend into violence and bloodshed in the place of peace and development?

If this is what Rwandans will do as soon as they're given the chance (assuming, for the purposes of argument, that this wasn't what they were given in the recent elections), then evidently people who advocate for "true democracy" in Rwanda are advocating for genocide, as this is presumably what will inevitably happen if only the population were given a "real chance" to vote as they will.

So the question arises, Why are some in the "human rights" and NGO community so bent on the return of bloodshed, violence and indeed genocide (in the literal sense of the word) to Rwanda? Why are they so sanguinary? Is it because they can't imagine Africans conducting themselves in such a way as to not to lead to violence and bloodshed and instead elect for peace and development?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 4:57:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

@Anon, no one in the international community wants Rwanda to return to genocide or any other form of violence. It's ludicrous to claim otherwise.

No one believes that Africans, including Rwandans, can't conduct their affairs in a peaceful, democratic fashion. But the problem with Mr. Kagame's rule is that he's not governing in a democratic manner, and by not doing so, he is setting the country up for disaster. By not allowing free and open political discussion, by not allowing legitimate opposition candidates to run for office, and by tightly controlling media, he's so limited the outlets for peaceful disagreement that I greatly fear that some of those who can't have their voices heard will resort to violence, even though they'd prefer to oppose Kagame peacefully.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 6:42:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Ingabare should have been allowed unimpeded to exercise her democratic right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre just for the pleasure and satisfaction of seeing everybody get trampled to death even though there is no fire.

Somehow this would have been the "democracy" you prescribe for Rwanda. And for some reason you're incensed that they're not jumping to attention and doing as you say, even though you're a Westerner. It's enough to make you apoplectic with rage, isn't it -- field negroes from the old country getting uppity in front of house negroes! Such an attitude must be nipped in the bud for it goes against the order of nature!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 11:02:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"No one believes that Africans, including Rwandans, can't conduct their affairs in a peaceful, democratic fashion."

You didn't see the quotation I was quoting? Here it is again:

"The sad reality is that people would vote on ethnic lines if given the chance. If Ingabire had been allowed to run - she would have won."

This guy, for one, thinks what you're suggesting nobody does.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 11:05:00 AM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Anon @11:02, what on earth? Your so-called logic is mind-boggling. It's not okay to refer to anyone as a slave on this blog; do it again and I'll block your IP address and delete all your comments.

I don't claim the right to tell anyone in Rwanda what to do. What I do claim, based on a lot of knowledge from a lot of places around the world, as well as detailed knowledge of Rwanda and its history, is that Kagame is playing a dangerous game in his bid to stay in power. It's likely to backfire on him, which would lead to significant deaths.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 4:08:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's likely to backfire on him, which would lead to significant deaths."

Ergo, let Ingabare shoot off her mouth, stand back and watch the fireworks. Ooooh! Aaaagh!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 2:18:00 AM

 
Blogger Rich said...

@Taxasinafrica
Ref # "I don't claim the right to tell anyone in Rwanda what to do."

Couldn't agree more with you. However, when push comes to shelve, some Rwandan will find people to blame and use their own mistakes to blame the world.

Water somewhere? This reminds me of the famous Thai saying, “When the water's high, the fish eat the ants/When the water falls, the ants eat the fish”.

Kagame should learn from Nelson Mandela and avoid embarking into the 'fishy' vicious circle! Perhaps, when you've created so many ennemies, it becomes difficult to find your way out.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 1:03:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...when you've created so many ennemies, it becomes difficult to find your way out."

The nature of the circumstances meant that enemies were inevitable. When you roundly defeat the enemy in combat, you make a permanent enemy of the hard-core surviving elements who've now managed to escape to the West and have succeeded in recruiting some NGO and "human rights" groupies to their finish-the-job cause or, failing that, destabilization operations.

When you're uncompromising about fighting corruption, then you're likely to make enemies of those with weaker constitutions but with big egos.

When you're not scared of the big powers, like France, then you're likely to make enemies from them.

When you are successful in effecting development in an African country without submitting to the dictates of the development NGOs, who are apparently the final authority on everything developmental, you're likely to make enemies of them.

The nature of the circumstances has meant that it was inevitable that Kagame would make enemies. I think in fact he should stay in office longer ... just to piss off these enemies! LOL Man, I want front-row seats just to watch them have their monumental fit! LOL

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:59:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a difference between recruiting and using. It is ludicrous to say that amnesty international and human rights watch are actively working (having been recruited) to destabilize rwanda or to "finish the job".

If say that developmental NGOs whose only purpose of existence is to help rwandans have become the enemies of rwanda is a bit backwards. Maybe the FPR sees them as an enemy because they don't toe the party line, but they certainly don't view Rwanda itself as an enemy that must be fought.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 1:07:00 AM

 
Blogger Rich said...

@ Anon... Wednesday, September 22, 2010 9:59:00 PM

Would have been fair for you, to find out more about the meaning I attached to some of the words used. Now, do I need to tell you that I’m not here to defend the corrupt or whoever wants to destabilise Rwanda?

I find it simplistic to assume that Kagame’s love for Rwanda is somehow superior. I also find it simplistic to assume that Kagame’s enemies range, exclusively, between those he defeated in the 1994; those who are corrupt; big powers like France and development NGOs.

Choosing the use of VIOLENCE to suppress freedom or persecute whoever doesn’t share Kagame’s world views, as done by the Tutsi led government of Rwanda, is WRONG and can only promote disharmony within the Rwandan society. The current and ongoing use of violence in Rwanda is a choice and not a certain result of “...nature of the circumstances...”

Ref # “I think in fact he should stay in office longer ... just to piss off these enemies!”

Staying in office longer is not a problem to me but the need to address the poor human rights record is something anyone who believes in freedom must advocate.

Ref # “Man, I want front-row seats just to watch them have their monumental fit! LOL”

Perhaps you’d enjoy, even more, that front row seat to the point of having a fit if a close relative of yours was, monumentally, prejudiced by what you call, so affectively, “nature of the circumstances”.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 12:49:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Staying in office longer is not a problem to me but the need to address the poor human rights record is something anyone who believes in freedom must advocate."

Working hard to further consolidate the peace and development thus far achieved is the best way to defend human rights. Being poor and hungry isn't a human right. And asking how high to jump when told by the destabilizers and development spoilers to jump is definitely no way to look after human rights ... unless chaos and violence is the type of environment in which human rights best flourishes, as we are apparently being led to believe.

I think Rwandans have gone through too much and have worked too hard to want to go back to all that poverty and backwardness, chaos and violence putative members of the self-appointed "human rights community" want to prescribe for Rwanda. You people will just have to live with a Rwanda that's committed to continuing to move forward. Because the Rwandan nation certainly isn't gonna commit suicide just for your deranged satisfaction!

Friday, September 24, 2010 3:14:00 AM

 
Blogger Rich said...

Ref # "Because the Rwandan nation certainly isn't gonna commit suicide just for your deranged satisfaction!"

We thought so when Habyarimana’s regime set out to dominate and silence the minority Tutsi for almost 20 years.

We were wrong that time as we are wrong now when we pretend to be awkwardly satisfied in thinking that Kagame has the monopoly of thinking and doing what is good for Rwandans.

Yes being poor and hungry isn’t a human right but being denied your basic rights and freedoms through the use of violence is just as BAD.

Rwanda isn’t as stable as some of you love to think. Beneath the surface there is a sheer scale of disharmony being fed by the denial of the rights of other Rwandans; and this is promoted by the current Tutsi led regime.

If Kagame is serious about uniting that country he must ensure that other Rwandans who do not share his world’s views are free to exercise their rights.

Consensus is impossible so long as other members of the society will feel excluded or alienated.

Friday, September 24, 2010 4:51:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, piss off, already! Rwanda's doing just fine without you. In fact, it's doing very well.

If you're serious, then go ahead and raise an army to "fix" things in Rwanda. You see a potential repeat with what happened with Habyarimana. So where is this armed (presumably) "Hutu" army that's gonna do what the RPF did in 1990? The genocidaire elements in the Congo? Well, good luck with that. The remnants of Nkunda's forces? Again, good luck.

So where are the anti-Rwanda NGO battalions? (By the way, those big white NGO SUVs will be difficult to conceal.) The biggest army I've seen so far consists of three of four disgruntled egotists in South Africa. Perhaps they have a chance, I don't know -- maybe they're that good and this four-man army shouldn't be underestimated.

But other than that, I'm not sure where this instability you're desperately wishing for is going to come from. Oh, I know! Rusesabegina is going to join the Army of Four and it'll become the Mighty Army of Five!

So when are you going to go into the region and start raising the army that'll do the job? *tapping fingers impatiently* When will you roll up your sleeves and put words into action. Otherwise, why don't you shut up already and stop dreaming.

Friday, September 24, 2010 5:49:00 AM

 
Blogger Rich said...

Ref # "Oh, piss off" ... "Otherwise, why don't you shut up already and stop dreaming"

Very colourful indeed! Is that an expression of your intolerance?

You are missing a valuable point when you think that not sharing Kagame's world views means wishing hell for Rwanda.

Perhaps there is a valid justification to be a narrow minded and intolerant. This is because some can assume that in a country of around 8 and ½ individuals only one individual is capable of doing good.

Friday, September 24, 2010 9:19:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For all intents and purposes, you people DO wish hell for Rwanda, whether you're conscious of it or not, whether you admit it or not. (Imagine -- let Ingabare run off her mouth and to hell with all the hard work thus far!)

There are 52 other countries on the "Dark Continent". I'd say most of them are much more in need of your considered input and invaluable knowledge than Rwanda is. Since Kagame hasn't done a good job, let's see you do a good job of another African country; put some runs on the board. To be generous, you can start off without a genocide, indeed no genocidal enemy to contend with in armed conflict; no France backing said enemy; no totally devastated country; etc. Surely you should be able to do a much better job, and there are dozens of countries out there in desperate need of someone of your knowledge and experience. So run along, now.

How's your army going, by the way? Are you going to be its general, or is Nyamwasa bidding for it as well?

Friday, September 24, 2010 9:48:00 AM

 
Blogger Rich said...

Expecting to work hard to further consolidate the peace and development thus far achieved through UNDEMOCRATIC practices and calculated VIOLENCE is nothing more than a chimera that only arrogant intellectual dishonesty can accommodate.

Your epidermal reactions, when they don’t read pathetic, they, at least, read childish.

16 years in, Habyarimana’s regime looked far more stable than Kagame’s. Someone said history repeats itself because we never listened to it. You do not end a cycle that produces victorious victims through deliberate victimisation.

Believe what you want but I know, I can never wish hell for Rwanda. Next post not wanted but may be read!

Friday, September 24, 2010 12:23:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, your invaluable advice noted. Please accept it and move on if Rwanda chooses to continue on in its path of peace and development. Maybe some other African countries will be willing to listen to you.

And let me know how your army's coming along when you get the chance.

Friday, September 24, 2010 7:52:00 PM

 
Blogger texasinafrica said...

Okay, that's enough. I'm shutting down comments on this post, and would've done so two days ago if I'd known how nasty the debate had gotten. Please review the comment policy on the upper-right-hand side of this blog.

Friday, September 24, 2010 8:28:00 PM

 

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