President Paul Kagame is a fine soldier who saved the Tutsis from extermination in 1994 in Rwanda. But in his analysis of the genocide (Building a Future After Rwandas Genocide, op-ed, Wall Street Journal, April 7), he glosses over some pertinent historical facts and his own appalling human-rights record.
It is somewhat naive to think that the threat of genocide can be eliminated by abolishing ethnic identity and distinctions. The real cause of ethnic violence or pogroms is the monopolization of power and the reluctance to relinquish or share it with other groups. Nearly all civil wars in post-colonial Africa were started by politically excluded or marginalized groups. Rebel leaders, like Mr. Kagame, head straight to the capital because thats where power resides. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it.
Worse, Mr. Kagames nebulous policy against divisiveness has been used to silence and jail dissidents and political rivals. Freedom of expression does not exist in Rwanda; nor does freedom of the media. All key state institutions are controlled by Kagames Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). There is no democracy: Mr. Kagame has won two Stalinist elections (2003 and 2013) with more than 90% of the vote. Critics of Mr. Kagame are routinely hounded, vilified, jailed and even assassinated.
Worse still, Mr. Kagame has sponsored and financed three Tutsi-led invasions into the Democratic Republic of Congo that have caused the deaths of some 6.4 million Congolese.
The real tragedy of Rwanda is that Mr. Kagame is so consumed by the 1994 genocide that, in his attempt to prevent another one, he is creating the very conditions that led to it.
|George B. N. Ayittey is Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, President of the Free Africa Foundation, and former Distinguished Economist in Residence in the Department of Economics at American University. He is the author of the forthcoming book, The Alternate Road to African Prosperity.|