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Full Interview: President Kagame Talks To Al Jazeera About His Legacy, Opposition, Mozambique, Uganda

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President Paul Kagame dug deep into how he has led Rwanda from a failed state to a progressive one and weather he plans to stay longer or not. He also spoke about the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda. More, he talked about Africa’s new paradigm shift in regard to managing their own affairs void of the west’s hand.

Read more below.

Ali Aldafiri: When I was 19 years old Mr. President, we only knew Rwanda through the massacres that took place in this country through the news bulletin in the year 1994. Today Rwanda has transformed and changed, there’s a very big renaissance. What have you done, what is the password that you use to achieve this great transformation and success in your country?

President Kagame: Well, truly we have come from far, almost to non-existence to where we are now. The country is stable, is peaceful, we’re making progress, there’s growth, there’s development, people are coming back together, the country was so divided in the past, now there is unity in the country.

So, i think progress is on, there is still a lot of work to do, we have a long journey to travel to be where we want to be, so there is not a secret i think, it’s just people understanding the need to address the challenges we face and we try to do that the best way we can and involve everybody.

And, yes there are leaders, people, ordinary citizens who have to be involved and benefit from different policies, social economic policies that lead to that transformation, that’s what we as leaders have had to do, is make sure that we put in place these socio-economic policies, working together with the citizens and also making sure that everyone moves in good direction.

Ali Aldafiri: There were 800 000 deaths from April to July 1994, it’s not easy at all to turn this page. What were the initiatives that you have adopted over the past 27 years to overcome this issue amongst Rwandese?

President Kagame: I talked about policies, i talked about citizens being involved, i talked about leaders really being focused and also doing things in a way that they earn the trust of the people of this country, i think that’s where we put a lot of energy and we have not been mistaken, the results have been speaking for themselves.

Ali Aldafiri: What are the guarantees that Rwanda will not return to these very difficult days?

President Kagame: Well, because we are not working towards that! We are working towards something else. We do it in a sustainable manner, and it is sustainable because of, one, the people themselves that get involved and understand the need for doing what they are doing, two, it brings stability and we continue to build on that.

So we concentrated on building a foundation, we built institutions; also we tried to create a mindset change, generally for our people.

In the past, we had Rwandans who would sit back and almost sometimes do nothing because there are rich people who help the poor and they will come to help, and so now we are saying, okay let’s not wait for people who want to do well, and do good and bring us, you know, what they can give us to live. Let’s do that ourselves, let’s be able to, of course when you’re working with others or those who want to do good and bring whatever they want to bring, then they should find us already making good progress.

Ali Aldafiri: Mr. President, when a person talks about the future projects, this is important and logical. It is logical that change needs many years to be achieved but when a president talks about the future and has been in power since the year 2000, does this indicate that you intend to stay for longer as president of Rwanda?

President Kagame: Well, I don’t have to be in power to see the benefits of what I’m talking about. Some of the good things have already happened anyway and I am seeing them. There are many other things we expect to happen that are good for us, that are good for the country, maybe some of those will come when I’m not there, but certainly Rwandans will see that or will be contributing to that happening, and so on and so forth.

So, that’s why it takes me back to say, for me that’s not really a big issue, whether what I’m doing now, what i will do or what i will see tomorrow, is just a part of a bigger thing than me, and also it’s part of a process. But as I mentioned earlier, it also depends on what the people of this country want.

Ali Aldafiri: Is the political peaceful opposition allowed to work here in Rwanda and to face the president, to disagree with the president and to seek power by competing with him through the ballot boxes?

President Kagame: The opposition exists. The opposition means people having different views about governance, about whatever is happening in the country. Even if they were ten and were pursuing different lines of thinking, political thinking, they converge on one thing, all of them. That’s my expectation. They converge on the well-being of the people, and also the stability of the country. I think on that one they don’t disagree.

I don’t think there would be anyone called ‘opposition’, and that is understood as being opposed to the established arrangement, thinking that, ‘no, I want to remove these ones and bring instability to the country’. So in other words those are things they converge on.

So, in our case, we have also had that anyway in our history, we have had instability and we have had instability at a time in fact these different parties called opposition parties had emerged, and all of them participated in that instability, all the parties.

This genocide you hear about that happened 27 years ago, it doesn’t matter which side they were coming from, so there was no opposition, so-called which you mentioned, that stood up and said ‘no, we can’t go down this road’. They actually participated in that. Why would you think that happened?

So I’m trying to bring to your attention the fact that each country has its own context and circumstances in which it operates. Therefore, you don’t want to establish just a template and say every country must follow this way of doing things. I don’t think even these champions of democracy actually do that.

Ali Aldafiri: But some people say that President Paul Kagame has a tendency towards the African continent as an African flair that rejects the western standards in matters like democracy and human rights.

Kagame always says that ‘we have African values, we have culture, we are the ones who decide how and in what way we must live’ but the western model Mr. President dominates the world. So how do you face this western model and what other African values do you want to dominate the African reality?

President Kagame: When we are talking about Africa and then we’re talking about the history of Africa and the present time governance and leaders, why should we forget the history as well? People come forth and they want to pretend like the problems are just starting today or that they don’t actually involve these same people we are being told to emulate, to admire, to… No, they are part of my problem.

We have to take the blame for our own wrongdoing, Africa. There’s no question about it, we can’t escape it, we shouldn’t escape. But should we also keep quiet about the wrongs done by others to Africa in the past? By the way, even in the present.

So how then do I even as a person accept that those dictates prevail, that i should keep quiet about certain wrongs that have been done to me, against me, and just follow the dictates of others to me even when they make similar or worse mistakes in their own situation?

Ali Aldafiri: There were some problems that happened with Uganda in March 2019 in the Great Lakes region. Have you overcome this matter, especially since Museveni is an ally of President Paul Kagame as you have worked together for long periods of time?

Have you overcome this matter and how has this dispute affected the region here in East Africa?

President Kagame: Not yet. I think there are still a number of issues that will have to be resolved. Well, it takes two to tango, I guess both countries will continue searching for a solution to the problems that still exist, we understand the root cause, therefore we should be able to find the way forward and better understand than we have had in the recent past.

Ali Aldafiri: Mr. President, what is the nature of the dispute between you and Uganda, in particular the problems between you?

President Kagame: We have had opportunities to discuss some of these problems openly, for example I just state two key facts: a big part of the border is closed and some people will say just open the border and do trade and…which everyone wants and in the whole region. Now, for us the problem is what actually led to the closure of the border that needs to be answered before the border as such is open.

We have had a situation where Rwandans suffer or are not allowed to go to Uganda to do their business normally, the establishment in Uganda simply hands down Rwandans wherever they find them, they have all kinds of pretexts they put forth talking about insecurity that is caused by Rwandans, and we have raised issues around that which really amount to persecution rather than anything originating from Rwandans that go to Uganda.

But when Ugandans come to Rwanda, they have not experienced the same hardships as Rwandans do when they go to Uganda, and the question here is if you are talking about border closure, a border is for people, the people who cross back and forth.

Ali Aldafiri: Why is Museveni, your former ally, doing this? Some people say that there is a fear of Paul Kagame’s leadership and hegemony in the region. Is this more of competition than disputes over borders?

President Kagame: I don’t know, I don’t want to argue for somebody else. If you ask me what concerns me, I’ll tell you, but if you ask…

Ali Aldafiri: Mr. President, do you call President Museveni or do you communicate with each other?

President Kagame: We used to. We used to talk to one another but of late it has more or less stopped.

Ali Aldafiri: Is it a long time ago?

4th Quadripartite Summit: Presidents Meet at Closed Katuna Border

President Kagame: It is for some time. And until these issues are resolved then, talking isn’t just talking for the sake of it, we talk because we relate and have to do things together, but if not then what is talking about?

Ali Aldafiri: Mr. President, what is the Rwandan army doing in Mozambique, in Central Africa, how long will the army stay outside the country?

President Kagame: Well, the Mozambican problem, we were, first of all as Africans and as even friends of Mozambique, when Mozambique had a problem and wanted us to work with them to address whatever problem there was, they went to other countries it’s not just Rwanda, and for us we responded the way we could and we have worked with the Mozambicans to address the problems that, and the way we had to, I think much success has been achieved.

So, again it’s between us and Mozambicans and whoever else they asked to help to decide the way forward, and the way forward would be dictated by the conditions on the ground and the work that has to be done, eh… in view of that. So I really don’t see that as a problem.

Ali Aldafiri: Till when will the Rwandan army stay in Mozambique? Shouldn’t this mission be left to the Mozambicans? So is your army going to stay longer in Mozambique?

President Kagame: This is what I’m saying, it will be solved between Rwanda and Mozambique. We are capable of discussing and seeing what issues on the ground to address and how and what time it takes.

But some of these things you don’t just give a date and say ‘no I’m going’, even when we were going, we were not saying we are coming to resolve this problem in one week, in one month, and we are gone. It doesn’t happen that way. So what can we do about?

A lot has to depend on the circumstances as well. It depends on what is on the ground really, and also the feelings of the Mozambicans who asked for help in the region, the southern African region, who asked us, and there is a lot of discussion that goes on in knowing what to do next. So that’s not a big problem.

Ali Aldafiri: You chaired the African Union during that before last session; you offered several Africans integration projects such as Free Trade, the Single African Air Transport Market and African Free Trade.

In your opinion what is the volume of problems facing the issue of African cooperation and building a strong economic block that depends and benefits from the wealth of the continent in achieving progress amongst the countries?

President Kagame: Africa has to come together and that’s why we have an African Union, it was to try and bring Africa together, to work together for cooperation, for, you know, to be able to address the many challenges that face Africa.

So when I became the chair of the African Union in 2018 but even before or even after that, we always emphasize on Africa working together. Whether it is for security, for trade and investments, or, actually facing together these injustices that we talked about earlier.

Ali Aldafiri: What is the obstacle? Some people say the large part of obstacles of Africa is coming from outside Africa.

President Kagame: Well, that’s what we have to agree first of all. Does it come from outside? Is it something we can… and therefore, whatever it is, wherever it comes from, even if it comes from within by the way, we can still work together to address it.

It’s not that we should come together to address what comes from outside. No, it’s coming together to address what affects us commonly, even if it was to originate from another country within Africa, you know, affects us or affects a number of us, it needs to be addressed.

Ali Aldafiri: What is the worst picture in President Paul Kagame’s memory in the years of asylum that is still stuck in your mind?

President Kagame: Well, I say it’s an image of poverty, it’s an image of deprivation, it’s an image of instability because even when I was a kid, four years old, when we, my family was fleeing the country and going to the neighboring country Uganda, I still, even as a young kid I remember the chaos that I could see, the way we are being rushed here and there, so as I kept growing, these memories also kept in my mind up to now.

Ali Aldafiri: Colonialism for decades and centuries has created a negative image or stereotype for the Africans. Today, there are various successes made by the Africans.

Does the image of the Africans today concern you at the time where the Africans are presenting successful strong and unique models?

President Kagame: For me, I see myself as a person, as a human being, as a Rwandan, as an African, and therefore these struggles are things we have to confront and deal with directly without any apologies, without any fear, without even a sense of feeling we are doing it as a favor to anyone but rather to ourselves, to humanity, to many others who have not been able to maybe have a chance or have a thought about doing what we have done.

So it’s quite a broad thing, I see indeed my way of evolving into this as part of the history of many Africans, as many, given that history whether it is in colonial times or bad governance of today or injustices, double standards that exist in the world that affect us today.

Africa or Rwanda, you will find we are a country you want to do, you know the citizens want to do the best for themselves.

You happen to be a leader of these people, but you find there are these injustices and all kinds of problems that affect you, that are not of your own making, that come from somewhere else, that are linked with the history of how people view you, how they want to see you, and, so you are caught up right there in the middle and you have to do something about it.

There is not much you can do just as an individual; you have to do much with other people and it all comes and builds on the political thinking people have.

Ali Aldafiri: Mr President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, thank you very much.

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Special Report

PART II: Why Is Uganda Provocative, Disrespectful?

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This is our second article in the series expounding on the historical and current dynamics that are relevant to the frosty relationship between Rwanda and Uganda.

Intimately, we are recollecting moments that help us to expose President Yoweri Museveni’s hostility against Rwanda. In this piece, we focus on what transpired in the early 90s. We pick key and strong instances that shade light on how Museveni’s behavior has been consistent despite the fact that the two countries have shared social-political milieu with varying degrees of interludes.

Shortly after the liberation struggle to stop the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, regional countries had become home to thousands of Rwandan refugees, particularly elements of the Habayarimana regime that had participated in the genocide.

The largest majority had established themselves in the jungles of DR Congo (Zaire). The Kinshasa government had also gradually lost its grip on management of the state, creating a conducive environment for the Interahamwe to mobilise, organise and return to Rwanda and complete their mission of exterminating the Tutsis.

Meanwhile, Congolese Political and armed groups, too, were battling for control.

Kisangani wars

In view of security concerns, Rwanda deployed in DRC to flush out genocidaires who had established themselves in military and refugee camps along the DRC common border with Rwanda, ready to strike and accomplish their mission to exterminate the Tutisi.

This was in late 1996 when they fought alongside Laurent Desire Kabira’s side of Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo to overthrow Mobutu.

The establishment in Kigali wouldn’t sit idly and wait for trouble to spread back home. They had identified the right group to give support.

Meanwhile, the RPA was receiving accolades from the world over for winning battles yet Museveni regarded them as “boys” he trained.

It is said that when Rwandan fighters were advancing towards Kinshasa, Museveni asked Kigali that his brother, Gen Salim Saleh to command the final assault and capture Kinshasa, the capital city of DRC.

This sent a bad taste to the Rwandans. Museveni’s audacity was unbearable. His arrogant and disrespectful demand was decline. He proceeded, nevertheless, up to Kisangani during what is known as Congo II.

During Congo II, Museveni struggled to justify deployment of his troops in DRC, but he proceeded and up Kisangani which had been liberated by Rwandan troops (RPA).

Ironically, Museveni insisted that RPA withdraws from Kisangani and allow Ugandan troops to occupy it, which Rwanda refused. Apparently, Museveni’s plan was to establish a break-away faction from RCD led by Wamba Dia Wamba.

In August 1999, on a Saturday morning, fighting broke out between Ugandan and Rwandan forces.

Ugandan army forces backed the Kisangani-based faction of the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie (RCD-Kisangani) and the Rwandan forces backed mainstream RCD-Goma.

The fighting broke out – with clashes for control of the city centre and one of two airports – after RCD-Goma had disrupted a “tour of explanation” around Kisangani to brief the public on the Lusaka agreement, according to RCD-Kisangani Spokesman, Sessanga Ipongo.

In this gun battle, Uganda was defeated.  For Museveni, the defeat was painful. He kept looking for a chance to vet his anger on Rwandans. He engaged his commanders in Kisangani to secretly create room for another clash against the Rwandans. The two sides clashed three times, including in May and June 2000. Ugandan troops were walloped again almost to a total inhalation.

Notably, on June 5, 2000, heavy gun fire was heard blaring into the skies between the two sides.

Uganda provoked Rwandans by shelling their positions in Kisangani in mid-morning on June 5 and lied that its forces had simply responded to an attack on one of its army vehicles. The shelling was followed by a ground attack.

In response to Ugandan provocation and arrogance, the well-organised and commanded Rwandan troops counterattacked UPDF in a fierce seven-hour battle that ended a week of terrifying, indiscriminate shelling. Uganda suffered heavy losses that Museveni has never forgotten until today.

A few remaining Ugandan fighters almost ran into Congo River before Rwandan commanders voluntarily ceased fire.

Museveni is said to have pleaded for mercy with Rwandan authorities as the fighting ensued. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwj_hLrGmcH0AhUtQ_EDHf76BUEQFnoECAkQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fopendocs.ids.ac.uk%2Fopendocs%2Fbitstream%2Fhandle%2F123456789%2F4913%2FMakara-MAK-Res.pdf%3Fsequence%3D1&usg=AOvVaw1hDA-DZF_0PkvU567EXKM8 .

According to witnesses at that time, bullet-riddled bodies of over 2000 Ugandan soldiers lay strewn along the gravel road that leads to the bridge where Rwandan troops halted the Ugandan push into the Congo River port city. The stench of death was everywhere, and there was no water, electricity, food or medicine.

Meanwhile, Museveni was humiliated when he learnt that dozens of his fighters were being held by Rwandan fighters as prisoners of war. He openly denied it. When Rwandan repatriated the prisoners of war, Museveni welcomed them as heroes.

It was reported then that the prisoners were being held at a military camp in the central prefecture of Gitarama. “Ugandan authorities should stop to posture by denying that we don’t have their prisoners. It is normal to take prisoners in any war,” Rwandan government Spokesman then, Joseph Bideri said. “The army leadership in Uganda is negotiating their release with the military authorities here,” he was quoted as saying. Read: (https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/report/15983/rwanda-ugandan-prisoners-war-paraded)

Back in DRC, unarmed UN observers were in place to monitor the cease-fire called by Ugandan forces. The UN raised its flag and declared that any further fighting would be considered an act of aggression against the international community.

At that time, Rwandan soldiers had captured tons of ammunition, guns and an anti-aircraft battery left behind by the Ugandans.

“I am not proud of this,” a Rwandan commander said then. “But we were fired at. We won because our soldiers know what they are fighting for. We are now leaving Kisangani regardless of Ugandan intentions.” The fighting ended.

This was another loss for Museveni which added more salt to injury. Museveni has never forgiven Rwanda for this. Ominous as he is, Museveni has never buried the hatchet.  His hatred and bitterness against Rwanda are alive and kicking.

Our next article will be published on Monday.

PART I: Why Is Uganda Provocative, Disrespectful?

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Rare Peep Into Espionage Fights Of Rival Koreas

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Song Chun-son, a duck farm worker, endured two and a half years in a North Korean labour camp and said she was later coerced to work for its secret police, the Ministry of State Security. Then she defected to South Korea in 2018. She studied to become a caretaker for nursing home patients while working part time as a waitress.

That was until South Korean counterintelligence officers caught up with the details of her past in North Korea, where they said she had been involved in the effort to lure or blackmail North Korean defectors in the South into coming back to the North.

Ms. Song, 44, said she had no choice but to do what the North Korean spy agency asked her to do while she was living there and that she was unaware of being part of a coordinated scheme. Still, South Korean officials arrested her in May on charges of helping the North’s Ministry of State Security. Her case has since provided rare glimpses into the clandestine battle the rival Koreas have waged over North Korean defectors living in the South.

Under its leader, Kim Jong-un, North Korea has plotted to bring North Korean defectors in the South back to their former homeland using whatever means it could, including recruiting people like Ms. Song. But the South’s counterespionage authorities are equally determined to thwart the North’s operation, carefully screening newly arriving defectors from the North, like Ms. Song, to catch anyone linked to its efforts.

On Tuesday, a court in Suwon, south of Seoul, sentenced Ms. Song to three years in prison. Instead of enjoying her new freedom, she finds herself sitting in a prison cell in the South, having become a pawn in the cloak-and-dagger war between her old and new home countries.

“When I came to South Korea, I confessed to what I did in the North to make a fresh start in the South,” Ms. Song said in an August letter she sent from jail to her sister, also a North Korean defector in the South. “I was coerced to do what I did — but they say that doesn’t erase the crime.”

A photograph of Song Chun-son, who is in prison on espionage charges, is displayed by her sister, Song Chun-nyo, on her smartphone in Seoul on Nov. 16, 2021. The case offers a rare look at the covert battle the rival Koreas are waging over North Korean defectors living in the South.

More than 33,800 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the 1990s. But since Mr. Kim took power a decade ago, at least 28 of them have mysteriously resurfaced in North Korea. How and why they went back to the totalitarian state they had risked their lives to flee has been one of the great mysteries in inter-Korean relations. (South Korean officials fear that some of the hundreds of defectors who have disappeared in recent years may have also ended up in the North.)

North Korea has used the returnees for propaganda, arranging news conferences where they described how lucky they were to escape the “living hell” they found in the South to return to the “bosom of the fatherland.”

Ms. Song’s arrest showed that South Korea’s counterintelligence officials were not sitting idle. Between 2009 and 2019, they arrested at least 14 North Koreans who entered South Korea as defectors, accusing them of arriving here on spy missions that included plots to bring fellow defectors back to the North, according to government data submitted to the National Assembly.

Ms. Song told the court about how she ended up going to South Korea. A native of Onsong, a North Korean town near the Chinese border, she had been working as a broker, helping North Korean defectors in the South transfer cash remittances to their relatives in the North when the Ministry of State Security recruited her in 2016.

Confronting her about her illegal work as a cash broker, the ministry gave her a stark choice: serve time in a prison camp or cooperate with agents. For Ms. Song, who had already been in a labor camp from 2007 to 2009 for the crime of illegally entering China for food in the wake of a famine in the North, the choice was obvious.

“She had to cooperate to stay alive, she had no other choice,” said her sister, Chun-nyo, who defected to South Korea in 2019.

In the court hearing on Tuesday that sent Ms. Song to prison, the presiding judge, Kim Mi-kyong, dismissed her appeal, saying that she had helped the North Korean secret police for personal gain as well.

A North Korean soldier stands guard on the banks of the Yalu River at the North Korean town of Sinuiju across from the Chinese city of Dandong, in northeastern Liaoning province on April 10,2013

During her trial, Ms. Song admitted providing a secret police agent named Yon Chol-nam with the telephone number of a North Korean defector in South Korea she had known while working as a broker. She also admitted calling the defector to ask him to help Mr. Yon, lying that the agent was her husband and that he worked for North Korean families trying to reach their defector relatives in the South.

With the defector’s help, Mr. Yon located three North Korean defectors in the South, prosecutors said. He tried to persuade them to return to the North by putting their North Korean relatives on the phone with them. One of the defectors, Kang Chol-woo, and his girlfriend, also a North Korean defector in the South, returned to the North through China in 2016 and later appeared on North Korean TV.

In August 2016, the ministry sent Ms. Song to China to spy on North Korean migrants there and on Christian missionaries who helped them flee the North. It gave her a code name: “Chrysanthemum.” But after two years, she fled to South Korea, where she told her debriefers what she did for the North’s Ministry of State Security.

“She thought she was cleared when she was released from the debriefing center to live a new life in the South,” said her lawyer, Park Heon-hong.

However, Ms. Song had unwittingly stepped into the fierce spy war over North Korean defectors.

Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a huge metropolis where modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture meet Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets.

Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea has tightened its control over the border with China, the main escape route for defectors. And it has intensified its crackdown on the South Korean TV dramas and music smuggled from China through which North Korean defectors learned of life in the South.

Partly as a result of these crackdowns, the number of North Korean refugees arriving in the South dropped to 1,047 in 2019 from 2,914 in 2009. The number plummeted to 229 last year, as the pandemic led to further border restrictions.

North Korea has called the defectors “traitors” and “human scum.” But its online propaganda channels have also interviewed family members who tearfully appealed to defectors, telling them that Mr. Kim promised to forgive their crimes if they returned home.

South Korea has put its guard up, catching North Korean agents disguised as defectors who entered South Korea on clandestine missions to assassinate fellow defectors or lure them back to the North.

But South Korean counterintelligence officials also have a history of fabricating evidence in their overzealous hunt for North Korean spies. In 2016, South Korea announced the arrival of 12 young North Korean waitresses and their male manager, billing their defections as a major coup against Pyongyang. The manager later said that the South’s National Intelligence Service plotted with him to bring the women here against their will.

“Ms. Song thought she escaped from the grips of the Ministry of State Security when she defected to the South,” said Jung Gwang-il, a North Korean defector who leads No Chain, a civic group working for North Korean human rights. “But waiting for her in the South were counterintelligence officers eager to make what little score they could against the North.”

 

 

Adapted from NYTimes

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Expert: ‘President Ndayishimiye’s ‘Vision 2040′ is Just a Slogan’

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Last week President Evariste Ndayishimiye convened a national development forum aimed at presenting his vision, a new development agenda and setting the tone for his leadership since he came to power.

According to Prof. Julien Nimubona a political scientist [pictured above], what President Ndayishimiye presented was not worth to be described as a vision.

“Compared to the forum in general, unlike speeches, I didn’t see a vision. Saying that “the goal is for Burundi to be an emerging country by 2040″. This is not a vision. In political science, this is called a slogan,” said Prof. Nimubona.

 “A vision is a coherent strategy based on specific objectives to be achieved with resources that can be mobilized to achieve them,” he said in an exclusive interview.

Below is a detailed analysis of the forum through the lens of Prof. Nimubona.

By organizing this forum, what do you think is the message behind?

In my opinion the forum was more than the meeting of the Estates General on Development.  For the first time, this forum allowed the debate between intellectuals and politicians all coming from the system in power.

The panelists, the guests, were what are called “organic intellectuals”. That is, intellectuals organically linked to power. Which means that what they said or the recommendations made were not coming from the opposition. All members of the executive were seated, listening like students in class.

Before this forum was convened, President Ndayishimiye had made a number of interventions deploring bad practices within the State, criticizing the judiciary, the administration, even if it meant sacking certain senior executives, questioning mining contracts.

Lost investments (example of the Mpanda dam with its 54 billion FBU, etc.) A propensity which connotes a desire to want to destroy these bad practices within the system. Nevertheless, he encountered indifference from his close collaborators.

By organizing this forum, it seems to me that he got it right by opening a window within what I call the big mute of the Cndd-Fdd: this majority made up of the intellectuals of this party. And if we don’t look closely, this class is constantly dominated by a power, admittedly military-civilian.

But, a militant power where partisan power prevails over technocratic power. While it is the latter that promotes development. Through this forum, I think the Head of State wanted to give a voice to this category of people.

“Make Burundi an emerging country by 2040”, the first edition of the National Forum on the Development of Burundi was opened on Thursday, November 18.

What is the point of System experts talking to system managers?

The biggest question that torments President Ndayishimiye is how to implement changes with the managers at the controls for the past fifteen years.

Implementation of recommendations made requires the correction of the deficiencies of managers that have been at the helm for the past 15 years.

The question is, “Why will they want to change all of a sudden when they never have in over 15 years?” In view of all this, one comes to wonder: “If this is the case, does the Head of State have the right men in the right place? to drive its long-awaited changes? “.

For you, this forum starts the debate within the Cndd-Fdd?

This forum is going to soon trigger an unavoidable debate within the ruling party. Like in 1992, With the start of multipartyism in Burundi, this greatly disturbed the Uprona party. I remember Nicolas Mayugi, at the time secretary general. He spoke of “a possible democracy within a single party.

Currently within the ruling Cndd-Fdd party, there is debate whether strengthening of democratic culture is still possible. With this forum, I fear that the President of the Republic has opened a Pandora’s box.

Do you think all relevant themes have been explored?

It seems to me that the disturbing themes were not mentioned. In this regard, I have listed four other topics that could have been discussed in this forum.

The first forgotten theme: it is the issue of opening up the democratic space. A prerequisite for the stabilization of Burundi. No briefing was made on how to borrow to get Burundi out of this cycle of political violence.

Nevertheless, I have the impression that the actors present did not take this into account. In the absence of a more integrative democracy, the democratic majority is confused with the partisan majority. An unnamed mistake because it results in the systematic exclusion of opposition parties and ethnic minority groups. Knowing that investments are conditioned by internal stability, I believe that this point should be discussed.

The second theme not mentioned is the issue of demography. Which one could associate with climate change. Whatever you do, the demographic pressure on the earth, on the education of children (crowded classrooms), puts pressure on the quality of health care.

The other unmentioned problem is the environment. For a country like Burundi, over 95% of which depends on agriculture, climate change must be a priority. All the more reason, it was advisable to study the strategies. The third theme little mentioned is administrative governance.

The quality and access to public services is a headache. Because of patronage, neo-patrimonial, ethnicist practices, a dispute persists between the population and the State. In my opinion, an opportunity which would have made it possible to identify the main axes, beyond building confidence.

Governors of Southern Province and Eastern province respectively listen as their Burundian counterparts speak

Is the ongoing contact with the Rwandans a possible normalization of bilateral relations?

The 4th theme that has not caught the attention of experts is regional integration and international development. Knowing that our economy, to a certain extent, also depends on that of the countries of the sub-region.

This theme would have made it possible to show how much the antagonisms between States (case of Rwanda, Uganda) weigh on our economy.

Political realism has always prevailed in Burundi-Rwanda relations. As evidenced by the post-colonial history of these two countries in the management of the issue of Rwandan refugees, etc.

Currently, the problem is that public opinion, especially Burundians forget, what are the issues behind the rapprochement between these two countries.

Of course, Burundi has communicated more about its desiderata, in particular, the delivery of alleged putschists.

The big question that persists: is Burundi ready to make concessions with regard to the grievances of Rwandans? However, I have no doubt that over time a solution for a possible resumption of bilateral cooperation will be found.

The recent lifting of sanctions by the United States against certain Burundian politicians. A good thing ?

A nuance. Even in the decree of President Biden canceling the said sanctions, he welcomes a marked improvement in governance, the rule of law, etc. It is only necessary for the Burundian authorities to think that this is recognition.

Sometimes international decisions can be a way of encouragement. History of moving quickly while respecting democratic principles. In the case of the lifting of these US sanctions, it is indeed an encouragement from the head of state to continue his reforms. The same strategy used by the EU in initiating this dialogue for the lifting of their sanctions.

On the one hand, the United States lifted the sanctions. On the other, the EU, which is renewing them. Your reaction.

One thing should be known: the United States of America as well as the countries of the Union of 27 are for the imposition of respect for democratic principles (human rights, good governance, etc.). However, the literature on these kinds of issues varies from power to power.

Americans get information through a network of government services (embassies, NGOs, intelligence and information services (CIA, FBI, Medical Corps, etc.). And these services are so marked by the logic of government policies For them, only the politico-economic issues count.

However, in the case of Burundi, since 2015, China has gained a foothold in Burundi, strengthening its positions in the sub-region. by the Americans and the EU.

However, who says cooperation of China with Burundi, refers to its penetration into the east of the DRC, with as a corollary the armed groups which abound. In light of all this, the United States of America felt it was better to protect its strategic interests, rather than cry out about human rights abuses.

Are there sufficient prerequisites to release counterbalance?

Also, we must not lose sight of the fact that in the United States of America, democracy is an elitist democracy. Often the president decides without consulting his people. A situation poles apart from the EU. European countries are fundamentally democracies of opinion. However, not all 27 countries have the same perception of respect for democratic principles.

For example, during the dialogue with the EU, some countries like France and Belgium were somewhat open. The opposite of the Germans. Another thing to note is that EU diplomacy is heavily influenced by civil society organizations.

This is why, when the European Parliament wanted to rule on the resumption of cooperation, the reports of these human rights organizations undoubtedly tipped the scales in the deliberation of MEPs, blocking the action of ministers. which, quite possibly, would have allowed the situation to evolve. I think that is currently the case with this renewal of the sanctions against these personalities.

Is this to say that lifting of EU sanctions against Burundi is not coming soon?

For tomorrow, I don’t know. But, if ever, it intervenes it will be a purely politico-realistic decision. A decision which tends to encourage the President of the Republic to translate into concrete actions his many speeches of reforms on the national and international level. Also, we must separate individual sanctions from those against a country.

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