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March 30 - April 5, 2015

Media Monitoring Report for Rwanda
Posted on April 7, 2015

1. Liberal Party president allegedly fled to Europe while wanted over missing funds
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 30th March 2015 “‘Mitali resigns as Liberal Party president” by Edwin Musoni

  • Rwanda’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, Protais Mitali, who also doubled as the president of Liberal Party (PL) has resigned from the party leadership on grounds that he was no longer in position to discharge his responsibilities while out of the country. 
  • Mitali’s resignation was endorsed by the party’s national congress after the Speaker of Parliament, Donatilla Mukabalisa, who also doubles as PL’s first vice-president read out the resignation letter. In the letter, Mitali handed over power to Mukabalisa as the interim leader of the party.
  • However, some officials within the party are accusing their former president of embezzlement and mismanagement of party funds although others deny this, saying that Mitali had actually lent out money to the party that he later recovered. 
  • When asked about the matter, Mukabalisa could neither deny nor confirm the allegations. “We have commissioned an audit. At the moment, we have to wait for the audit report,” she said.
  • In a telephone interview from Addis, Mitali denied any form of malpractices saying that the audit report will clear the air.

New Times, 5th April 2015 “Former PL president Mitali wanted over missing funds” by Edwin Musoni

  • Members of the Liberal Party ( PL ) are considering legal action against their former president Protais Mitali after an audit exposed financial irregularities. So far, the audit showed that up to Rwf63 million was unaccounted. According to the Party, he occasionally transferred money to his personal account.
  • Mitali, who was Rwanda’s ambassador to Ethiopia, was relieved of his duties on March 21, 2015, and instructed to report back not later than April 4. On the night of April 2, he left Ethiopia for a European country.

2. Former Rubavu mayor denied bail
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 4th April 2015 “‘Ex-Rubavu mayor Bahame remanded” by Placide Hategekimana

  • Former Rubavu mayor Sheikh Hassan Bahame, currently in custody in connection with bribery was denied bail by Rubavu Intermediate Court.
  • Bahame was arrested last month together with the former district notary, Judith Kayitesi. The duo is accused of receiving a Rwf4 million bribe from a building contractor in order to fast-track the issuance of a land title. Kayitesi pleaded guilty to the charges, while Bahame denied the allegations.
  • The former mayor had filed his bail application on grounds that prosecution lacked evidence to prove his complicity in the case while Kayitesi argued that she had an advanced pregnancy.
  • But court presided over by judge Hodal Edigard denied them bail, saying the reasons indicated in the application were not convincing enough and they had committed a serious crime which undermines the growth of the economy. 
  • Bahame’s driver, one of the prosecution witnesses pinned his former boss, alleging that they discussed the bribery deal with Kayitesi on phone.
  • On conviction, bribery attracts a jail term of between five and seven years and a fine ranging from double to ten times the amount of the bribe received.

3. Kagame does not agree with western definition of freedom
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 1st April 2015 ( translated version, originally published on March 29 in´Jeune Afrique´) “‘Kagame speaks about term limits, accountability” by Francois Soudan

  • According to Soudan, the campaign for the re-election of Paul Kagame in 2017 has begun and he gave some examples: a peasant woman publicly declares that she will commit suicide if he does not run for another term, a businessman says he will go into exile, soldiers threaten to desert and opinions in favour of him staying in power have increased on radios and newspapers in Kinyarwanda. 
  • But Soudan admits that these tokens of esteem is not pretence. The “desire for Kagame” is really there and he names the reasons: the positive economic and social achievements, but also and mostly because of the fear for a future of a country that is still traumatized by memories of genocide.
  • Soudan continues: “The lack of political and civic rights highlighted by different NGOs and the trials of opposition members almost go unnoticed for those who see access to food, health care and education - meaning 90 per cent of 11 million of Rwandans. For them, Kagame is a life insurance that guarantees order and progress. Many of them think that if Kagame leaves, it would mark the opening of a new season of machetes.” 

The amendment of the Constitution

  • Kagame pointed out that the debate about his run for president in 2017 was started three or four years ago by the international media, consulates and NGOs. He said : “Conclusions will be drawn by Rwandans and only them. We don’t have the pretentiousness to tell France or the United States who should lead them; the same principle should be applied to us. 2017, I repeat, is the People’s business.”
  • Kagame continued: “Let’s imagine that I don’t run in 2017: they will say that people rejected me that the situation was no longer bearable, that I fled, I was afraid, and who knows what else. Let’s imagine that I run: it will be a proof that I am an autocrat. In one way or another, narratives will always be negative.” 

Civil and political freedom

  • Kagame had to answer the question about the death of his former personal physician Dr. Emmanuel Gasakure and the tycoon Assinapol Rwigara. He said that those who spread he was involved make people believe that in Rwanda no one can die from natural death. 
  • The president also confirmed that he is not worried about the reports of NGOs about the state of civil and political freedom in Rwanda because their reports are based on restrictive and biased western definition of freedom which is not in accordance with Rwandan definition of freedom. According to Kagame, for Rwandans, there is no freedom without the freedom of getting health care, education, shelter, food and electricity; there is no freedom without equality between men and women.
  • In Kagame’s opinion, in Rwanda the freedom of expression really exists. People can criticize him, the government, their leaders without going to jail. One can see this during his meetings with people across the country, read it in local newspapers and listen to that in private radio stations. In his own words: “Our law does not sanction the critics. It only punishes abuse, defamation, incitement to hatred, and the promotion of genocide.”

FDLR

  • Kagame does not see any results in fighting the FDLR in eastern DRC. He accuses the South African and Tanzanian troops of double standards and hypocrisy when attacking FDLR and M23. He closes: “ And this only strengthens our resolve to only rely on our own strength.” 

4. Kagame indicated he will not candidate in 2017
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 3rd April 2015 “‘Kagame: Security, self-determination will not be compromised past 2017” by Felly Kimenyi

  • Whoever the people will democratically choose as their leader come 2017 must be prepared to guarantee three things that are most important to Rwandans: security, socio-economic progress, and freedoms and self-determination. These priorities were outlined by President Paul Kagame during a news conference in Kigali.
  • Kagame reiterated that the decision whether he will run for president in 2017 rests entirely in the hands of the people. He said: “I have not asked anyone to change the constitution,” adding that proponents of constitutional amendment will need to convince everyone concerned, including himself, that extending his leadership beyond 2017 was the best thing for the country.
Private independent newspapers

News of Rwanda, 2nd April 2015 “‘I Will Not Renew My Job Beyond 2017— Kagame” by Gahiji Innocent

  • During a news conference in Kigali, President Paul Kagame reaffirmed that he will not seek to renew his job as President beyond 2017, unless he is convinced beyond reasonable doubt.
  • Kagame said there are two schools of thought on the matter; “the first one argues that, come 2017, the constitutional presidential term limits shouldn’t be removed that the constitution should be respected as it is.”
  • The second school of thought argues that; “No. We think this constitution is made by people and that it can be changed by people so that we continue with the person we have in place.”
  • “I belong to the first one,” Kagame said.

5. Rwanda received first groups of refugees from Burundi
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 3rd April 2015 “‘Govt, devt partners move to support fleeing Burundian refugees” by Doreen Umutesi

  • Government of Rwanda has promised support to Burundians who have recently fled to Rwanda, citing insecurity in their country. Over 500 Burundians have so far fled to the country since last month. Most of them have been settled in a refugee transit centre in Biryo Cell, Gashora Sector.
  • Government officials, representatives of humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), the Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, Alexis Ntukamazina, and the head of the European Union Delegation to Rwanda, Micheal Ryan, visited the transit centre, to assess the situation. Dr. Azam Saber, the UNHCR representative in Rwanda, said the number is still manageable but added that it might increase with time.
  • Joselyne Mukamutara, from Kirondo Province, said she fled with her family following threats on her life. She claimed they feared the ‘Imbonerakure’, an alleged youth wing of the ruling National Council for the Defence of Democracy–Forces for the Defence of Democracy (CNDD–FDD) party which she claimed was secretly armed and trained.
  • “For several weeks we had been sleeping in bushes fearing for our lives. We hadwritten death threats dropped on our door steps stating the date and time when we would be killed. So there was no reason to stay in Burundi. If the Imbonerakure can kill a policeman in my village Bugabiro, what guarantee do I have that they will not kill me?” Mukamutara wondered.
  • Alexis Ntukamazina, Burundian ambassador to Rwanda, who heard the various testimonies from the refugees, pledged to report to his government the situation of his compatriots based on the information they had provided.
  • “No one deserves to live as a refugee. I have seen the conditions they are in and heard the requests they have made to the Burundian government, I will pass on the information. I don’t think the Imbonerakure group is above the law,” Ntukamazina said.

6. French court released another genocidaire
Private but pro-government newspapers

New Times, 5th April 2015 “‘French court releases genocidaire” by Edwin Musoni

  • On April 4, a French appeals court ruled against the extradition of Genocide suspect Claude Muhayimana and ordered his immediate release. Muhayimana is accused of taking part in the 1994 Genocide.
  • This decision comes at a time when Rwanda is preparing for the 21st commemoration of the Genocide – a move that genocide survivors say is intentionally meant to ridicule genocide victims.
  • “This is not the first time France has released or let off the hook génocidaires during the commemoration period, its intended and planned to mock us,” said Naftar Ahishakiye, the Executive Secretary of a genocide survivors’ association.
  • France’s appeals court refused to extradite Muhayimana on the grounds that the crime of genocide was not on the statute books in Rwanda in 1994.
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