Is Rwanda a dictatorship?


This week leaders from across the Commonwealth meet in Rwanda for their first summit for four years and the first in Africa since 2007. 

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The normally biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) hasn’t taken place since 2018 because of the pandemic, but leaders will convene in Kigali on 24 and 25 June for talks “to reaffirm their common values and agree actions and policies to improve the lives of all their citizens”.

The CHOGM puts Rwanda under the spotlight again, after the UK government’s initial flight of asylum seekers to the nation was thwarted by a European court ruling last week.

‘Willful failure by the Commonwealth’

“Rwanda is one of the most repressive nations in Africa,” author Michela Wrong said in The Guardian. “The choice of Rwanda sends out nothing but worrying signals about where the Commonwealth is heading.”

Hosting the CHOGM is a “particular prize for regimes who want to use it for what one might call ‘reputation laundering’”, said Philip Murphy, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies and professor of British and Commonwealth history at the School of Advanced Study in London, at The Conversation. The choice of Rwanda and its president, Paul Kagame, he continued, seemed like a “willful failure by the Commonwealth Secretariat to learn from recent history”. 

Kagame, who rose to power in the wake of the 1994 genocide, is seen as a “benevolent dictator” across Rwanda, reported Deutsche Welle (DW). He has been president for 22 years, winning landslide victories in every election.

In 2017, he won nearly 99% of the vote, noted the German broadcaster. His supporters called the result “an accurate barometer of his enormous popularity in transforming Rwanda from the post-genocide depths into a beacon of African prosperity and stability”, said The New York Times that year. But opponents and rights advocates said it “reflects what they call an oppressive political environment that stifles dissent in the central African nation”.

Kagame’s reputation has survived a series of accusations, added the Financial Times, and his country has come to be “depicted as an African Singapore or even a Switzerland” – something Wrong argues is down to economic figures “doctored by the state”.

She wrote in …read more

Source:: The Week – All news


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