Most African Heads of State, we are sure, were quite surprised, even shocked. This is not the kind of thing they do—criticize a fellow Head of State—for any reason.
Yet that is exactly what Rwandan President Paul Kagame did last weekend to his Burundian counterpart, President Pierre Nkurunziza, for “the upsurge of violence” in that neighboring country.
“People are being killed every day; bodies are found on the streets . . . leaders are spending time killing people,” President Kagame cried.
Why all these murderous atrocities in Burundi? What else but to stifle, flush out, finish any dissent or opposition whatsoever to the bloodthirsty regime, which constitutionally has no business being in power. The Burundi constitution limited a president to two terms only. But no, Pierre Nkurunziza, hungry and greedy for power, did not care, leading his country into political turmoil, even civil war.
He had to run for a third term, no matter what.
The people courageously demonstrated their opposition. Parts of the military, sensing the threat to the country’s peace and stability, even tried to stage a coup. Nkurunziza responded with ruthless brutality and even murder, killing anyone deemed to be in opposition to his illegal regime.
This led President Paul Kagame to ask desperately, “What kind of politics is this?” Coming as he did out of the 1994 genocide that occurred in his own country, Rwanda, where over a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred, Kagame knows only too well what violence is. That is why he has striven to run a good, clean government and country. Rwanda has been described as one of
Africa’s most progressive countries—not in the exclusively political sense—unlike the Liberian ‘progressives’ of the 1970s, who preached a lot of rhetoric and succeeded in conscientizing the students, youth and even the military. Then came Liberia’s April 14, 1979 Rice Riot, and the ‘progressives’ had no plan whatsoever to seize the opportunity that came. Then the bloody 1980 coup d’état and the ‘progressives’ still had no plan. They were caught with their pants down, until the coup makers, the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), released some of them from prison and ushered them and others straight into positions of power.
And because the ‘progressives’ had no plan, but had been making empty noises, the uneducated, inexperienced but politically savvy coup leader, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, swiftly outsmarted the ‘progressives,’ forcing all of them to join the Armed Force of Liberia (AFL). They had no choice but to comply. Not long thereafter, all of them, one by one, started running away from Doe, beginning with the leader, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, in August 1981.
And when the civil war came, many of the ‘progressives’ were finally given the opportunity to lead the country. And what did the Liberian people get? More political ineptitude, more corruption, and more civil war that lasted 14 years, leaving nearly 300,000 dead, millions internally and externally displaced, the country’s infrastructure destroyed and the country set back 50 years!
Thankfully, alas! Paul Kagame was not that kind of progressive. So truly and uniquely progressive is he that he is RESULTS-ORIENTED. He hates filth of any kind—not corruption and nepotism, yea not even a piece of paper or plastic on the streets!
Our diplomatic correspondent Joaquin Sendolo has been to Rwanda. Upon his return he told the Observer readers that Rwanda is a clean country – one of the cleanest in the world. You cannot find even a cigarette butt on any street.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has praised President Kagame for empowering women like no other African leader, ensuring them appointed and elected positions in government.
Rwanda is also self-sufficient in food, and declines foreign aid unless it meets exclusively the aims and aspirations of the Rwandan people.
It is President Kagame’s progressive sprit that led him, unlike MOST African leaders, to lash out against President Nkurunziza: “What kind of politics is this?” Kagame asked in desperation and fear of another civil war next door.
And who will be affected? Rwanda, of course, which already has its share of refugees fleeing the violence in Burundi. A civil war would unleash hundreds of thousands more into Rwanda.
We pray that other neighboring leaders in East and Central Africa and beyond will follow Paul Kagame’s courageous example by speaking out against President Nkurunziza’s cruelty against his own people.
That is what the Daily Observer called for in Wednesday’s Editorial, to arouse world attention against the oppressive and murderous Eritrean regime.
Are there any other Paul Kagames anywhere?