By David Himbara
Of late, General Paul Kagame is desperately trying to convince the world that he is now Mr. Nice guy. For example, he freed the women whom he locked up when they tried to challenge him for the Rwandan presidency in 2010 and 2017 — Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza and Diane Rwigara, respectively. There are three reasons why he is doing this. First, Kagame is sponsoring his foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo to head the Francophonie. It is therefore in Kagame’s interest to pose as a democrat who respects human rights in line with the Francophonie’s values. Second, the Commonwealth is preparing to host its next summit in Rwanda in less than two years. Once again, it is in Kagame’s interest to pose as a decent guy who respects the values of Commonwealth. Third, Kagame is being outshone by his Ethiopian counterpart who has freed thousands of political prisoners in a genuine reconciliation process. Abiy Ahmed, the 40-year old prime minister is seen by the Unites States as the new African role model.
Ingabire refused to serve Kagame’s propaganda needs.
When Kagame freed Ingabire, he wanted to use her for marketing his fake image as Mr. Nice-guy. But things did not go according to plan. Ingabire who was supposed to lie low and be quiet instead remained true to herself. She spoke her mind as a leader of her party. She gave outspoken interviews on leading global media outlets. More importantly, Ingabire gave solidarity to Diane and Adeline Rwigara.
When Kagame realized that Ingabire would not play his game, he threatened to throw her back into prison.
Speaking in parliament on September 19, 2018, Kagame threatened to throw Ingabire back into his dungeon. This is how Kagame put it:
“The other day we freed some people, including the famous political stars worshipped by the outsiders but not by Rwandans. One of them is saying ‘I did not beg for mercy before I was released from prison. I was released because of external pressure.’ Pressure here? If she carries on like that, she will find herself back in prison. Or she will find herself outside Rwanda as a vagabond because she has no other skills. This new Rwanda here — we are immune to external pressure. You had better keep a low profile or else.”
Kagame is already fulfilling his threats to Ingabire. On October 9, 2018, Ingabire was hauled in for questioning by the Kagame security services. And after interrogation, the security services became the spokesmen for Ingabire by attributing false statements to her. The biggest lie is this statement that Ingabire is supposed to have made:
“The conversation took place in a cordial atmosphere, and Ms Ingabire reiterated her readiness to contribute to the peaceful development of the country. She stated that arrangements are being made for her children to come visit her through the “Come and See, Go and Tell” program.”
General Kagame and his regime will never stop taking the people of Rwanda for fools. Why would Ingabire bring her children to Rwanda? Who does not know that Kagame has previously kidnapped people who were visiting their families in Rwanda?
We pray for Ingabire and other newly released political activists, including Diane and Adeline Rwigara. We assure them that we will never believe the regime’s propaganda. To these Rwandan determined and brave women we say — even the rains sooner or later end. Courage.