Kigali, 15 December 2011

President Kagame today called on Rwandans to challenge those who claim to speak on their behalf but then practice double standards. While addressing over 1000 participants at the ninth annual National Dialogue at Parliament, President Kagame questioned voices from outside the country that consistently acknowledged Rwanda’s progress then contradicted this by adding a “but”, and pointing to a perceived lack of freedom of speech, and said that Rwandans have interest in their own rights and freedoms like everyone else;

“Those who say that Rwandans cannot express themselves can only mean three things; that Rwandans are mute, or someone is physically preventing them from speaking, or they have nothing to say”.

“There is no political space bigger than this. The only space lacking is the one constantly occupied by nonsense from the outside; from the teachers of political space, the very same ones who give space to murderers of our people – to genocidiares.”

President Kagame slammed the recent decision by ICTR to reduce genocide mastermind, Colonel Bagosora’s sentence from life imprisonment to 35 years, and pointed out that those who participated in the genocide with him are roaming free in Western capitals. He said that critics were not qualified to give Rwandans lessons on freedoms, particularly to those who have been freedom fighters since childhood;

“There are no lessons to be learnt from people with double standards who tell lies every day. They can do it just because they can, not because they are right. They can do it to Africans and they want to do it to Rwandans – but I want to assure you that we are different people. Rwandans should not accept this because accepting it is unthinkable. If you accept it, it can never get worse for you – you are better off standing up and challenging it. These journalists, human rights activists and masqueraders should not speak for you, speak for yourself!”

President Kagame said freedoms were not a myth whose possibility and definition lay only in the hands of a few with the power, privilege and capacity to dictate to others what is in their interest.

Referring to a recent article in media that questioned their new Prime Minister who had an Italian background, and asserted that they cannot be governed like Rwanda, President Kagame said;

“I am sure they wish to be governed like Rwanda because they have been without a government for so many years. And it’s not because they did not want to have a government, it’s because they failed to. Who is a minority? I am not from the minority. I am from the RPF and it’s the majority. I am from these Rwandans and they are not minority in their own country. Imagine these are the people who want to give lessons to Rwandans about governance and freedoms.”

President Kagame said those who criticised Rwanda in that way, and sometimes did whatever they wanted, like in the suspicious death of Rwandan King Mutara Rudasingwa, felt entitled to do so because they were donors.

“They do all this because we depend on them; they give you money and leftovers. When you are a beggar anything will happen to you. That is the position we are in and that is the situation we want to leave far behind. That’s why we are here and why we should leave more determined than ever to go and do the best we can and leave the beggar position behind. That’s when there will be no references made on us, and nobody will be able to say whatever they want to you.”

President Kagame also addressed the issue of third presidential term that was recently brought to the fore by the Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Fazil Harelimana, and described how he was obliged to respond to the same question every time he met with journalists;

“They are not patient enough to let me serve the rest of my term; they want me to go now. But Rwandans have entrusted me with the responsibility to serve them until 2017 when I can serve them in other capacities because I have served them in other capacities before. I can serve Rwandans after this office, and therefore I don’t see why people are developing a headache for nothing. After all, it doesn’t matter what I say; if I say yes, they will say I said no, if I say no, they will say I said yes.”