Mo Ibrahim Foundation Honors Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame: More Questions Than Answers

Mo Ibrahim and Paul Kagame in Kigali, April 28, 2018

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The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has awarded its Good Governance Award to former Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in Kigali, Rwanda, over the last weekend of April 2018. Unlike all the precedent awards, the recipient, the place, the tone, and the direction of Mo Ibrahim Fundation have raised eyebrows and many questions.

 What is Mo Ibrahim Fundation and Award for Good Governance?

Mo-Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership was created by  Mo Ibrahim, a British-Sudanese billionniares, who became rich from his communication investments in Africa. The prize was created to promote good governance and  encourage African leaders, notorious for holding onto power,  to leave power peacefully.

Created in 2007, the annual prize was only awarded to four African leaders, so far, given that few African presidents have, allegedly,  met the criterias. The leaders who have won are:  Joaquim Chissano in 2007, Mozambique's former president, President Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008, President Pedro Pires of Cape Verde  in 2011 and Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba. Nelson Mandela of South Africa  is the honorary laureate.

Winners of the prize had been, so far, selected by an independent committee of  seven eminent individuals.
Now, why questions and troubling trends for Mo Ibrahim initiative. Mo Ibrahim principles and criteria in selecting laureates were unequivocal. A recipient must be a former African head of state or government who left office in the last three years, was democratically elected, served his or het  constitutionally mandated term and demonstrated exceptional leadership. 

First Question: Does Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf deserves the award?

 Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was democratically elected,  stepped down after two terms as provided by the Liberian Constitution, and did not seek to change the Constitution to remain in power like other African dictators appeared to meet the criteria. Her problem is the last point: exceptional leadership.   Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is entangled in corruption cases and her controversial role during the bloody Liberian civil war challenges her exceptional leadership

Second Question: Why the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame hosting the Mo Ibrahim Award Ceremony, why the tone?

Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame's resume does not need introduction. Rwandans and Congolese civilians know well the extend of his crimes, his repression against the opposition and the widespread  and systematic assassinations  and massacres in Rwanda, Congo, and other African countries committed by General Paul Kagame, his army and his proxy militias and his assassins. But the World also knows. 2010 United Nations Mapping Report has documented his crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and massacres, that the United Nations has qualified as acts of genocide. Independents observers, Non Government organizations and the United Nations have estimated that between 1997 and 2010, General Paul Kagame and his army have killed between 5 and 7 million congolese.  

Aren't Mo Ibrahim and his  Foundation aware of the United Nations Report and several reports and accounts from independent sources.  Aren't they aware of targeted assassinations of opposition leaders across Africa, especially in South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and several countries. Isn't the Foundation, based in London, aware of the warnings of Rwandan refugees by British services of potential assassinations by General Paul Kagame's agents.

Questioned about General Paul Kagame, Mo Ibrahim could not provide a satisfactory answer. He said: "I do not believe that Paul Kagame is a controversial figure. Rwanda is an African country apart because it has a special history. Rwanda has made huge leaps forward. Our discussions this weekend focused on this fundamental topic of public service. It's central when we talk about good governance. I never said that Rwanda is perfect or that Kagame was perfect. But we must still take our hat of to him for all he has accomplished." 

To an audience female member from South Africa who asked Paul Kagame why he has been changing the constitution in order to cling onto power and  what was his succession plan, Mo Ibrahim  first questionned her citizenship, wondering whether she is really a South Africa citizen, perhaps implying that she could be a Rwandan opposition member, since obviously,  he  knew that a self declared Rwandan citizen could not dare ask such question and remain alive. 

Mo Ibrahim  then let Paul Kagame give the typical African dictator's answer: "The people  love me so much that they want me to remain in power, until I decide to retire, by myself."

If that is so, then why assassinations of opposition leaders or critics, systematic massacres, women opposition leaders, such as Diane Rwigema and Victoire Ingabire, thrown in jail.     Mo Ibrahim himself, suddenly rejected the tenets of his own foundation principles and said: "I criticize abuse of power, not staying in power... I am not criticizing African leaders who delay in power, I am criticising only African leaders who abuse power. There is a difference between the two.”  

Then, ironically, he questioned why Joseph Kabila, another African dictator, a student and, not long ago a protégé of Paul Kagame, is clinging onto power.  Was it because, Moise Katumbi, who, according to AfroAmerica Network sources is planning, with the help of Paul Kagame, to overthrow Jospeh Kabila, was also in Kigali, attending Mo Ibrahim Foundation's event?

Third Question: What is the direction of Mo Ibrahim Fundation?

Mo Ibrahim was, until now, well regarded, appreciated for its promotion of democracy, the  respect for human rights and democracy, and goog governance. Rwandans, beyond the elite in the towers in capital Kigali, built to project an image of prosperity and good governance, while, inside the country itself, the masses  are starving or  dying from tropical diseases, roads and other infrastuctures are crumbling, and a system worse that the  apartheid has taken roots.

Why then the sudden shift ot direction by Mo Ibrahim when it comes to Rwanda. Is it because the new Committee includes two people who are close, even special advisers to Paul Kagame? Or, are there other factors being missed.

So many questions that will need answers, to make sense of the dynamics between Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame.