Rwanda’s 1994 Genocide and the 2010 Elections

Published on Global, by Ann Garrison, January 25, 2010.

The memory, consequence, and disputed histories of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, loom large in Rwanda’s memory. Whether openly discussed or not, they will hugely influence the nation’s 2010 national election.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the United Democratic Forces of Rwanda arrived at the Kigali, Rwanda Airport on 01.17.2009, returning from 16 years in exile to register her party, in preparation for Rwanda’s August 2010 elections. Frank Habineza, leader of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Bernard Ntaganda, leader of the Parti Social Imberakuri, met her at the airport. All three parties are trying to register and field candidates, including presidential candidates, in Rwanda’s August 2010 nation elections …

… Rwanda Elections, August 2010:  

If the three viable opposing parties, the United Democratic Forces-Inkingi, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and the Parti Social-Imberakuri are allowed to register and participate in free and fair elections, they have a good chance, in coalition, of defeating Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) Party.

However, that’s a very big IF.

To register and get a ballot line in Rwanda, a party must first convene, and the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda has now tried to convene five times, only to be met with bureaucratic obfuscation and, onOctober 30th, violence. Their members have been harassed and arrested.

The Parti Social Imberakuri has been allowed to register, but the Rwandan Parliament now threatens to take their registration away.

The FDU will now begin its attempt to register, but Rwandan Minister of Internal Security Sheikh Mussa Fazil Harerimana has already warned the FDU’s Umuhoza against revisionist and Genocide denial pronouncements.

The memory, consequence, and disputed histories of what we know as the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, loom large in Rwanda’s memory, national consciousness and future as it heads into this national election year, which will conclude in August 2010 polls. Hence, the headline in the Sunday version of the Rwanda New Times, referred not to the upcoming election but to Ingabire’s assertion that not only Tutsis, but also Hutus were killed in the Rwanda Genocide of 1994: Ingabire espouses Double Genocide Theory.

Victoire Ingabire spoke to the elephant in the room, and the reaction, in the press from Kagame’s RPF Party, has been swift and vitriolic, accusing her of both “revisionism” and “divisionism, regarding the history of the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994.

Rwandan exiles in the United States and Europe, and seasoned Africa reporters, including Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski, describe this as a very tense, sensitive, and volatile situation.

Upon her arrival in Kigali, Mrs. Ingabire declared:

We totally agree and are conscious that there has been a genocide against Tutsis and we seriously and continuously advocate that all those who were responsible be brought before the courts of justice. We also agree that there have been other serious crimes against humanity and war crimes [against Hutus]; those who committed them have to bear the legal consequences. We must all the time remember those tragedies, make sure they don’t get ever repeated. We also need to ensure that people’s lives are effectively and strongly protected by laws. Hungry for truth, peace and justice. (full text).

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