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14 December 2015 - 6 January 2016

Media Monitoring Report for Rwanda
Posted on January 13, 2016

Compiled by Berta Fürstová

Report content

  1. Referendum: 98.3% Rwandans endorsed the revised constitution
  2. Kagame accepted to run for presidency in 2017
  3. Rwanda is not recruiting Burundian refugees into armed groups, says minister
  4. Rwanda faults UN figures on demobilized FDLR combatants
  5. Trial against former high-ranking military officer Rusagara continues

1. Referendum: 98.3% Rwandans endorsed the revised constitution
Private but pro-government newspapers

 “Referendum: Preliminary results show 98.3% approval rate” by Dean Karemera. New Times, 20th December 2015

  • The National Electoral Commission (NEC), released preliminary referendum results showing that 98.3% of Rwandans from 30 districts voted ‘Yego’ (Yes) to have the constitution amended while 1.6% voted ‘Oya’ (No). Out of 6.3 million people who were expected to vote, 6.2 million participated in the poll.
  • In the diaspora, 98.7% Rwandans voted ‘Yes’ while 1.3% voted ‘No’.
  • While responding to a statement by the European Union which claimed that one week was not enough to explain the proposed constitutional changes, the NEC chairperson Kalisa Mbanda reiterated that what happened was the people’s choice and it was the wishes of Rwandans to amend the constitution which was given enough time to be explained to the people.
  • Mbanda also added all parties were allocated the same time to inform Rwandans about the referendum.
  • The EU statement also alleged that there was no process allowing for independent monitoring in place. However, according to NEC, there were 7 international observers, five Japanese, one Nigerian and one from Democratic Republic of Congo. Civil society platform deployed 515 observers in total, which brings the final number to 522 independent observers.

“Referendum 2015: NEC confirms 98.3% of voters backed revised constitution” by Dean Karemera. New Times, 21st December 2015

  • On December 21, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) confirmed that 98.3% of Rwandan voters endorsed the revised constitution.
  • The result means that President Paul Kagame can choose to seek re-election at the end of his second term in office come 2017, with the revised constitution allowing him to stand for another seven-year term and then another two five-year terms.
  • NEC chairperson Kalisa Mbanda said that the commission observed that no mistakes were committed during the tallying process and allowed enough time for anyone who might want to challenge the preliminary results in court. “However, as of today, no challenge has been lodged and, as required by the constitution,” he said.

2. Kagame accepted to run for presidency in 2017
Private but pro-government newspapers

“Kagame says 'yes' to millions of Rwandans” by Times Reporter. New Times, 1st January 2016

  • While delivering his end of year message on national television, President Paul Kagame has accepted to run for presidency again after his second term ends in 2017, as requested by millions of Rwandans in last month’s referendum.
  • Kagame said: “You clearly expressed your choices for the future of our country. The process allowed us the time to make certain that the proposed changes had merit and wisdom. You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept.”

3. Rwanda is not recruiting Burundian refugees into armed groups, says minister
Private but pro-government newspapers

 “Minister dismisses report on Burundian refugees situation” by Times Reporter. New Times, 25th December 2015

  • Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs minister Seraphine Mukantabana has dismissed a recent report by Refugee International that claimed Rwanda was recruiting Burundian refugees into non-state armed groups as part of a systematic campaign involving both Burundian and Rwandan nationals.
  • Mukantabana said the report by Refugee International was written based on a three-hour visit, adding that such a time was not sufficient to write a critical report.
  • The minister cited a case in which a man who is alleged to have masqueraded as an official of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) with the intention to incite the refugees but was eventually denounced by the agency.
  • “There’s a guy called Jeff Drumtra, who was with the UNHCR as a volunteer but he had other intentions. He called the media and urged the refugees to say that they are being drafted into the army. When they refused, he left the country and wrote an article about an imaginative and vile situation,” the minister said.
  • “We since found out that those people [Refugee International] are connected to Jeff Drumtra,” added Mukantabana.

 


4. Rwanda faults UN figures on demobilised FDLR combatants
Private but pro-government newspapers

“Rwanda faults UN figures on demobilised FDLR militia” by James Karuhanga. New Times, 2nd January 2016

  • The Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) has dismissed as ‘inflated’ figures given by the UN mission in the DR Congo, (MONUSCO) of known FDLR combatants who surrendered and returned home this year.
  • While the RDRC registered a total 190 ex-FDLR militia fighters who returned home last year, the head of MONUSCO’s disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration section, Taz Greyling, reported that from the start of the year up to December, 710 FDLR members have been disarmed and demobilised, including 315  children.
  • In an interview, RDRC chairperson, John Sayinzoga, said, “That’s impossible. Where exactly did they [MONUSCO] send them?”
  • According to Sayinzoga, MONUSCO could be confusing the real FDLR elements with Rwandan refugee civilians as well as Congolese civilians recruited into the militia ranks. “When all these pass through their transit centres and they are registered in their manifests, they then announce that they have sent them to Rwanda and that they are all ex-FDLR.”

5. Trial against former high-ranking military officer Rusagara continues
Private but pro-government newspapers

“Rusagara, Byabagamba trial begins in substance” by Rodrigue Rwirahira. New Times, 6th January 2016

  • The Military High Court started the hearing in the case involving Brig. Gen. (rtd) Frank Rusagara, Col. Tom Byabagamba and Francois Kabayiza weeks after prosecution presented its evidence in the case.
  • Rusagara is charged with inciting public insurrection, especially members of the armed forces against the government and the President.
  • The prosecutor presented testimonies from the different officers, both retired and serving, whom he said were fed this “propaganda” by Rusagara.
  • But Rusagara’s lawyer cited contradiction in the testimonies, saying that some of them recorded two statements which said different things.
  • Rusagara is also accused of illegal possession of fire arms, a crime he jointly shares with Col. Byabagamba.
  • Byabagamba is also charged with public incitement and obstruction of justice through concealing evidence.
  • Kabayiza, a former driver to Rusagara, is accused of complicity in illegal possession of firearms and concealing evidence in a criminal infraction.

“Prosecution presents email evidence in Rusagara’s trial” by Rodrigue Rwirahira. New Times, 9th January 2016

  • Prosecution presented to court emails which retired Brig. Gen. Frank Rusagara sent to various people in a bid to spread harmful propaganda.
  • The prosecutor Capt. Faustin Nzakamwita said that some emails propagate the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) ideology. According to Nzakamwita, Rusagara also shared articles published on hostile websites with aim at tarnishing the image of the President and the ruling party (RPF).
  • In his defence, Rusagara stated that criminalising access to information, reading and sharing news without further proof of intention behind was unjust, at least with respect to his former line of duties.
  • “As someone who was a Military Attaché in the United Kingdom, such were our daily preoccupations, we were supposed to read all sources of information and most of these emails I totally disliked,” said Rusagara.

 

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