Rwandans will never cede sovereign decisions to anyone


An 18-year-old resident of Rebero Village votes for the first time during the constitutional referendum at Groupe Scolaire Rugando polling station in Kimihurura last year. (File)


RE:Gasana slams US envoy to the UN over double standards on Rwanda” (The New Times, March 23).  

Many Americans, including supposedly knowledgeable senior officials like Ms. Samantha Power, seem to be unaware how utterly absurd and incoherent they appear to the rest of us ordinary non-Americans outside their Beltway elites that, in the name of democracy, they can attempt to usurp the virtually unanimous and overwhelming will (over 95 per cent of eligible voters, including more than 40,000 in the Diaspora participated in last year’s constitutional referendum) of the people of Rwanda to retain our current national chief executive should he choose to stand for a further term!

What, beyond writing a book that had absolutely zero influence on the course of the tragedy our people endured alone in 1994 even as her country’s government looked on impassively and debated whether they should call the catastrophe genocide or not, does Ms. Power think gives her any moral standing to lecture Rwandans and our leaders regarding democratic choice?

If we have received any outside support, including from her country in repairing the fabric of our society and in picking ourselves from the abyss, our healing has still been primarily a result of our own choices and our own efforts.

We are grateful for all that support but would rather dispense with it entirely if its price is the ceding of our own agency to any outside power (no pun intended) or individual. We know best what is good or bad for us and will never cede decisions about our fundamental choice of governance to outsiders.

As (Rwanda’s envoy to the United Nations) Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana noted, there is much in American governance that we find unconscionable, but recognize it is a matter for Americans themselves to fix if they so wish.

Rwandans certainly have no interest in lecturing Americans on how they should organise and run their own internal politics (even if there are many things we consider to be very wrong).

Likewise, we do not wish outsiders, no matter how powerful they might be, to think they have any right whatsoever to interject themselves in our internal politics.

Mutual respect among nations, big or small, is the only basis for sane relations. Rwandans know, better than most, what it means when their most important decisions are taken by outsiders: death and destruction that can be the result affects only us, while foreigners, with Americans at the fore, are evacuated with their dogs and their cats, leaving Rwandans to face the consequences of decisions made by those such decisions do not affect: moral hazard in its purest form.

But beyond all the above considerations – as valid as they are – we Rwandans know who is the architect of our rebirth: President Paul Kagame.

We want his services for as long as we can have them, because his track record in our service is beyond any achieved by any other leader anywhere, perhaps at any time in history.

As far as we Rwandans are concerned, the likes of Ambassador Power have absolutely no leg to stand on commenting on our choice to retain our President in office; without him there would be no Rwanda to lead, let alone the faintest possibility of democracy in our country. This entire debate wouldn’t even be laughable.

Mwene Kalinda