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The Dilemma of Dictators Part IV: One Down, More to Go: Focus on Paul Kagame of Rwanda

In Part III of our series, the Dilemma of Dictators, we urged dictators to break the cycle of violence and fade away in peace, instead of being haunted by the ghosts of their crimes for years in dark cells, if not killed in the process, meeting the same fate as Samuel Doe, Nicolae Ceausescu, and Benito Mussolini.

As we write this Part IV, one of the enduring African dictators, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi of Libya has been killed as predicted. We had predicted that he was on his way out, but his tragic end and his suffering were worse than we even dared to imagine: apparently shot, then hiding in a sewage pipe, captured alive, dragged in the streets, and finally shot like a dog. His son went through the same ordeal. That is how many despots and tyrants die.
There is no joy at seeing him killed this way. Humanity deserves to be better than the evil in it. Those who tortured the dying General Muammar Gaddafi cannot be hailed as heroes. Heroes need to respect their opponents even, and especially, in defeat. Those who read Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey remember how Achilles, hailed as a hero, was nevertheless seen as a monster when he desecrated the body of Hector, his valiant adversary. When Hector saw his own fate sealed, he had begged Achilles to not spare his life, but to treat his body with respect after killing him. Achilles, blinded by rage, hate, and arrogance, and perhaps the lack of humanity, had responded:“my rage, my fury would drive me now to hack your flesh away and eat you raw – such agonies you have caused me.”
Hector’s father, King Priam, more dignified than Achilles, had to beg Achilles to have his son, Hector’s body given the proper burial. Let us hope Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and his sons will be buried with dignity and humanity and given respect in death and eternal rest.

In our discourses before that, titled the Dilemma of Dictators Part I and Part II we had contrasted a few African dictators with a figure from the Hebrew Bible and looked at the dilemmas faced by dictators in general. We had then put forward propositions on how to overcome the dilemmas. Then in Part III, we said that a lot had happened and was happening. Let us summarize once again the events we mentioned in Part III.

Laurent Gdagbo of Ivory Coast had become history. Muammar Gaddafi of Libya was then on his way out, or better say to his tragic end. He will now be remembered for the graphic pictures of him and his son dying and in death, their bloody body riddled with bullet holes and desecrated. Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen had been out of the country for months, after being seriously injured during an uprising. He has now come back and promised to resign. The choice for him is now death or departure in shame. Bashar Al-Assad of Syria appears more and more to be the next head to fall, if he does not lose his head in the process. Yoweri Museveni of Uganda continues to face a growing popular uprising and has been getting close and closer to his neighbor and former protege to the South, General Paul Kagame. In the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, planned rigged elections are threatened by more violence, especially if Joseph Kabila, who changed the constitution, maintains himself in power.

The underlying question this series has tried and continues to ask is: why do dictators postpone the inevitable to end up being forced out in bloodshed?
We advised the dictators to:

  • Ask themselves why they sought power in the first place.
  • Remember that their predecessors were also once as mighty.
  • Remember that is takes more courage to sit with the opposition figures than to assassinate or try to fight or impose violence on them.
  • It takes even more courage to work with the genuine opposition than to be surrounded by cronies, relatives, and the likes.

In this part we will focus on Rwanda. Not that Rwanda is the biggest country or the most important in Africa. Far from that.
It is because General Paul Kagame, the dictator of Rwanda, is arguably or at least viewed today as the most ruthless, most vicious, and most corrupt dictator that Africa has known to date. Idi Amin Dada, Mobutu Sese Seko, Samuel Doe, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, and Hosni Mubarak appear to have been simple amateurs compared to General Paul Kagame.
And this is not said lightly. Here are some of the facts:

  • His rise to power was the bloodiest in the World’s modern history. After allegedly assassinating his predecessor, he conducted a bloody war that led to the massacres of at least 800,000 of his people and emptied the country, with close to 4 millions people fleeing the advance of his ruthless rebels.
  • According to the United Nations Mapping Report of 2010, General Paul Kagame followed these civilians to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and massacred most of them, along with millions of ethnic Congolese Hutus or those who resembled and was suspected to be sympathetic to the Rwandan refugees. General Paul Kagame is accused of having killed more than 6 millions Rwanda and Congolese ethnic Hutu between 1994-2003. Even today, his soldiers continue to sow terror in the Congolese jungles. When one of AfroAmerica Reporter visited Kinshasa earlier this Summer, the impression was that the simple positive mention of General Paul Kagame or Rwandans in most of the Kinshasa’s corners may bring violence or even lynching. The crimes committed against the Congolese people General Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Army have sowed so much hatred among the Congolese that will be very hard, if not impossible, to heal in decades to come.
  • Corruption: Within 15 years, General Paul Kagame has become one of the richest men on earth, rising from rags to riches through repression, looting, killing and corruption. Within 15 years, General Paul Kagame has accumulated riches than can only rival the riches accumulated by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 42 years or the Arab princes in hundreds of years. The difference is Libya and most of the Middle East countries have oil; Rwanda has no natural resources to speak off.
    General Paul Kagame has two private jets, worth 120 million dollars, owns a 100 million building in prime real estate in London, is the main shareholder
    of the banks and industries in Rwanda and has stuffed offshore accounts in Seychelles, Mauritius, Turkey, Panama, Djibouti. When south African media disclosed the scandal surrounding the private jets, General Paul Kagame did what most dictators: relocating his wealth to more welcoming places. He moved the planes to Greece, and then apparently to Turkey.
  • Nepotism, Corruption, Cronyism and misappropriation of public funds: Whatever of great value in Rwanda that is not owned by General Paul Kagame is owned by the relatives of his even more corrupt wife, Janet Kagame.
    According to several sources here and here General Paul Kagame’s wife Jeannette siphons Rwanda treasury through her two brother, Richard Murefu and Mustar Murefu. One owns the tea industry, the second source of income for Rwanda, the fuel supply especially to all the airline industry and the military and the other owns most of the private media. Their wives manage the most important private Bank in Rwanda, Bank of Kigali, in which General Paul Kagame is main shareholder. Other relatives of Janet Kagame own or manage the Rwanda Metals, a monopoly in metals trade, MTN, a telecommunications monopoly, and several national and international real estates investments especially in South Africa, Turkey, Djibouti and Dubai. Relatives of General Paul Kagame also control anything related or connected to foreign aid, public finances and foreign exchange.
    The extent of the riches, businesses and enterprises controlled by General Paul Kagame, his wife Janet Kagame, and their relatives is mind boggling, especially that they have accomplished that within a mere 15 years.
    Recently, General Paul visited the United States and did not even bother to hide his scandalous wealth while attending Clinton Global Initiative, one of the main aid organizations involved in helping the poor Rwandans. With unprecedented ostentation, General Paul Kagame spent nights in $20,000 a night room hotel, while an average Rwandan earns only US$ 400.00 a year. From our calculations it would take close to 50 years for an average Rwandan to pay one night hotel for the Rwandan dictator.
  • Treatment of the opponents: General Paul Kagame’s human rights record is appalling. Rwandans journalists have called him the Hitler of the Great Lakes for his brutal methods, his war mongering instincts and his treatment of dissent. Political opponents have been killed for simple criticism. Those lucky enough are thrown in jail. Even foreigners who express opinions that do no please General Paul Kagame are not spared. The American Lawyer Peter Erlinder was saved by US State Department in extremes after spending three weeks in jail for having tried to serve as a council of a Rwandan opposition leader.
  • Brief, General Paul Kagame, appears to be the worst dictator that Africa has known. But our point is not to show or confirm that. Our aim is to tell General Paul Kagame that even he, can heed the winds of change and avoid the wrath of people, hence escape the fate suffered by dictators who came before or are contemporary to him.
    We believe that he may use the few friends he still has in the West, especially his well compensated advisors and courtiers in United States of America and in Great Britain to smooth land from his ivory tower of repression and tyranny.
    Once again, as we did before, we ask General Paul Kagame of Rwanda why he does not sit not only with the unarmed opposition of FUD, RNC, PS Imberakuri, Gree Party, but also with the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana), Rally for the Rwandan People (RPR), and the alleged Kayumba-Karegeya armed group to start a path to democracy. Crimes attributed to FDLR leaders will be covered during the dialogue. So will be the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity and war crimes attributed to General Paul Kagame and his army by the United Nations and the French and Spanish courts.
    We believe that by doing this, he will not erase the wrong he did in the past, but at least he will set the path for new generations, including leaving a good legacy to his own children. We recently learned he reshuffled the government, moving his own cousin who had been Prime Minister for the last ten years to another of the three most important government posts and appointing what the US Embassy in Rwanda calls “spineless an incompetent Hutu figurehead” to the post of Prime minister. This is the wrong way to go and a typical maneuver by dictators. A the US EMbassy put it: . The long-term stability of Rwanda depends upon a government and ruling party that eventually shares real authority with the majority population.”

    AfroAmerica Network promises to lend its support to dictators who chose that path advocated in our discourses.

    In our next installment, we will focus on another African Dictator.

    © October 2011. AfroAmerica Network. All rights reserved.

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