In a country that there was genocide, President Paul Kagame has spent more than 25 years in power.
I am worried with what is wrong with an African leader like President Kagame. I am in support of rotational presidency in post Rwanda genocide. I want it for equity, fairness and justice, in appreciation of the fact that Rwanda is Hutu and Tutsi nation so each group must be given a chance to produce the president.
One of the biggest issues Rwanda is grappling with, apart from systemic corruption, is that of the perennial struggle among the Hutu and Tutsi that make up the country for power at the centre. If it is not elements in the Hutu insisting power should return to them, it is elements from the Tutsi insisting they have not had enough of it yet to let go. This jostle since independence has led not only to the two ethnic groups working against one another, but also stunting of the nations development, violence and crisis in Rwanda.
I chose to write on – Rotational Presidency and Power Shift as an Instrument of National Integration in Rwanda. The objective is to introduce the principle of Rotational Presidency and Power shift as a recipe to political stability and the extent to which it can engender National Integration in post Rwanda genocide. I recommend the strict adoption and sincere application of Rotational Presidency in Rwanda as an elixir for the leadership and ethnic problems bedevilling Rwanda.
Twenty five years since the genocide that brought Hutu militia to DR Congo, FDLR leaders have found not only shelter, but status and riches. Rotational presidency in Rwanda could help resolve the problem of the aftershocks of the Rwandan genocide which contributed to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). That war, the deadliest since World War 2, was sparked in part by 2 million Hutus fleeing Rwanda attacking Tutsis. Some of the 2 million were militiamen, who attacked Tutsis in the DRC. The Kagame government supported local Tutsi forces, and the conflict escalated.
Rotational presidency in Rwanda could help resolve the problem of the legacy of mistrust which continues between the Rwandan government and Hutu-led FDLR are next in the sights of its well-equipped special intervention brigade.
Rotational presidency in Rwanda could help persuade the rank and file of Hutu-led FDLR that their best option is to go back to Rwanda.
The Rwandan government is now led by Tutsi former rebels who forced the Hutu authorities who perpetrated the genocide from power in 1994. President Kagame has rejected calls for negotiation with the FDLR.
President Kagame should learn from the African Union (AU) presidency which is a year-long rotational post by serving African presidents. One of the past President was Rwanda’s Paul Kagame whose reign could be marked by two main planks of continent-wide trade and institutional reforms. But before Kagame, there was Chad’s Idris Deby Itno in 2016 – his reign ushered in the launch of the African passport for Heads of State and other top AU officials.
To quote The Guardian ( 3rd Jan. 2016 and that of Dec. 2015), ‘Kagame is correct in one respect: Rwanda does not need an eternal leader.” Unfortunately, this is what it seems they have got.
Kagame will win election again, not because he is Africa’s answer to Abraham Lincoln but because he has ensured there is no viable alternative. There is no effective opposition to his regime. Political rivals have been shunted aside, jailed, exiled or have died in violent circumstances. Honest public debate, let alone criticism, is not tolerated. Human rights abuses are legion. Independent journalism is a fiction.
Rwandans have voted overwhelmingly to allow President Paul Kagame to extend his term in office, official results showed, prompting international criticism and expressions of concern from human rights groups. The controversial vote on the country’s constitution means that Kagame, 58, stood again in 2017 after his second mandate ended. In effect it authorises him to stand for another term of seven years and two more after that of five each, meaning that Kagame could be in power till 2034.
The President has held office since 2000, but has effectively been in a position of control since his rebel forces took over the capital, Kigali, in 1994, ousting Hutu extremists and ending the brutal genocide.
In May, 2019 Presidents Kagame, Lourenço and Tshisekedi signed a tripartite agreement in Kinshasa, DR Congo during which they agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of security, with the objective of uprooting all non-state armed groups in the region that continue to threat state security. The three heads of state agreed to strengthen cooperation between their countries and to invite other regional leaders to the tripartite axis in order to find ways to get rid of the Congolese and foreign armed groups and other questions related to the security of the states.
Most of these groups are based in DR Congo and they include FDLR, the offshoot of the forces largely blamed for the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda which claimed the lived of more than a million people, as well as RNC, of wanted fugitive General Kayumba Nyamwasa, linked to fatal grenade attacks in Rwanda between 2010 and 2014. During their May meeting in DR Congo, Presidents Kagame, Lourenço and Tshisekedi also agreed to revive efforts to promote peace and security through the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), an inter-governmental organisation comprising 12 countries of the Africa Great Lakes region.
President Kagame does not want to hear suggestions that one ethnicity or the other has too much power. Those are divisive thoughts. It is not possible to know, or even discuss, whether the majority Hutu population is well represented in universities. No such records are kept.
Twenty five years after the Rwandan genocide, some of those responsible are still wreaking havoc in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are terrorising the local population and profiting from the area’s rich natural resources. The developments come at a time when Rwanda and Uganda are witnessing a fallout in their relations after Kigali accused Kampala of backing and propping up groups hostile to Rwanda, including RNC and FLDR.
Rwanda should learn from rotational system itself which is not a new concept as many diverse nations and institutions around the world already practice variants derived from it. In Switzerland, the presidency rotates among the various ethnic groups and in the European Union; the presidency rotates among the member states. The rotational system is quite remarkable in Switzerland where the German ethnic group with 65% of the population constitute an absolute majority capable of perpetual political dominance, but yet subscribed to the rotational system in order to accommodate the minority ethnic groups. Switzerland is consequently one of the world’s most stable, democratic, harmonious and prosperous nations just as the European Union is one of the most functional and prosperous institutions in the world. Together, Switzerland and the European Union are notable examples in the successful application of the principle of rotation along ethnic and national lines, all designed to suit the peculiarities of their geo-political realities.
A constitutional or political arrangement must accommodate the emotions and sentiments of those it is designed to serve if its usefulness is to survive the test of time in Rwanda. Rwanda can design a democratic structure that accommodates its realities.
There is no universal structure of democracy, what is universal about democracy are the basic principles that govern it. The way the Americans elect their President is not the same way the British elect or select their Prime Minister. Rotational presidency is the appropriate leadership structure for Rwanda, based on ethnological realities and the temperaments of its peoples.
Rotational presidency, in my view, will complement and enhances the principle of good governance and embark on improving Rwanda constitution.