The campaigns have kicked off and come August9, one Rwandan will be elected for a seven year term office. It is, therefore, a civic duty of every citizen that the most suitable individual is elected in an orderly manner.
We need a selfless leader who will continue to steer this nation to great heights. As usual divergent views and preferences will be fronted by political rivals (not enemies) and their supporters, as voters we should listen carefully and choose our candidates peacefully – that is democracy.
We have witnessed unpleasant cases of conflict and violence during political elections on the African continent, but that should be an exception rather than the rule. The Commissioner General of Police’s call for peaceful elections and assurance of his forces’ commitment to national security should be supported by all Rwandans.
Two recent media reports demonstrated the will of Rwandans and their friends to conduct their affairs independently, guided by tested democratic practice.
The first is about Mr. Omar Faruk Osman , the President of the Federation of Africa Journalists ‘s ( FAJ) revelations about the sinister motives of some international NGO /Media organizations, on his arrival in Kigali, last Friday, was timely and supportive of Rwanda’s democratic process. Osman questioned the agendas and legitimacy of these organizations which deliberately misrepresent the African situation to further their own personal interests and those of their sponsors.
Osman pointed out that Africans know best what is good for their countries and African journalists must lead in the promotion of human rights and democracy rather than being led by their foreign counterparts.
Osman’s concerns were echoed two days later by President Paul Kagame during a press conference on Tuesday, a few hours before he launched his presidential election campaign in Kigali. In an apparent reference to organizations like Reporters without Boarders (RSF) and Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) which have relentlessly campaigned to paint Rwanda negatively even when facts speak for themselves, President Kagame wondered why some people make themselves experts on issues they know little about and don’t bother to verify the information they disseminate. Is it that they want to justify their prediction of a ‘failed state’?
Rwandans, for the last 16 years have been on steady, carefully planned development course. Like the President said, Rwandans should ‘stay the course’ to realize self-determination.
Time has come for Rwandans to speak through the ballot box and my message to fellow Rwandans ; let us demonstrate that we are mature enough to conduct free and fair elections in peace, the way the British did recently.
In the last British elections, the losers saluted the winners and pledged to work together for the good of the citizens, creating an atmosphere where a historical alliance between a major party, the Conservative Party and a relatively small Liberal Democratic Party formed a coalition government after none of the contending parties was able to marshal outright majority.
The colorful launch of the election campaigns on Tuesday, promise mature conduct yet eventful rallies. The four candidates are pledging improvement of the welfare of all Rwandans and none of the mudslinging rhetoric that set emotions aflame, often reported in some parts of the world during political election campaigns, seems to have no place.
Rwandans are cognizant of their unfortunate share of bad politics which resulted in the 1994 heinous acts of extreme violence that culminated in genocide and devastated their motherland; we must learn from that history and always seek to work and live in dignity and harmony.
Hon. Prosper Higiro chose to begin his campaign trail in the birth place of his liberal Party (PL) in Eastern Province with two rallies in Kirehe and Ngoma districts, where he promised to improve the welfare of Rwandans. He particularly pledged to improve health services in the country by providing a qualified medical doctor to each health centre among other things.
Dr. Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo of PSD started his trail in Muhanga, Southern Province; where he also pledged to improve health service delivery, continue unity and reconciliation programmes as well deliver on good governance. Dr. Ntawukuriryayo also promised to share `power with fellow politicians if he wins elections .
The two rallies were covered by the national broadcaster, Radio Rwanda and Rwanda Television and so were those by PPC candidate Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba and RPF candidate incumbent Paul Kagame in Rwamagana and Kigali respectively. I didn’t have the opportunity to follow PPC first political rally on radio (RTV promised to air it the following day), but I am certain she did well.
The indefatigable RPF candidate, after the press conference dashed to the stadium to launch his campaign trail. The rally according to a BBC journalist attracted the largest crowd, but the journalist did not forget to spice his story with ‘but no serious competitor’. Whether he is right or wrong the voters will decide, but on reflection, the comment could be based on past experience.
Tony Blair was elected PM three times in a row. No doubt he deserved it for although there was a host of brilliant politicians both on the New Labour Party, and the Conservative Party none was able to trounce him.
If Mr. Kagame is such a man, let him serve his` people. But let’s wait for the people’s verdict.