Kampala, 12 December 2011
President Kagame said in a press conference on Monday that he did not intend to spend the rest of what is left of his second term explaining himself on whether or not he would retire in 2017.
“I am aware that even if I wanted to rule forever, it would not be possible because there would be forces of nature that would eventually work against this. If there are people agitating for my stay in power, I think it’s their right to freedom of expression just like there may be others who are against my stay. But at the end of the day, I also have my personal say in all this as an individual. People should wait and see.”
Addressing media at the end of a two-day visit to Uganda, President Kagame said that press reports got it wrong that Charles Ingabire, a Rwandan national who was killed in Kampala recently, had fled political persecution and that he had actually stolen funds belonging to an orphanage before fleeing to settle in Uganda.
”It is wrong for people to turn assumptions into fact, even before we hear what the Ugandan and Rwandan police have to say about the case … There are people who judge Rwanda by war and conflicts and internal problems that plagued the country in the past but forget that it is not peculiar to Rwanda. The conclusion on cases by the media before facts are established shows prejudice and this does not help anybody; it does not help Rwanda and does not help journalism”.
President Kagame urged the media to undertake more scrutiny and investigation before making uninformed one-sided conclusions, particularly in cases of those who leave Rwanda and pose as victims of political persecution in order to maintain a certain status, even though their departure was a result of other unrelated problems.
Concerning the ongoing court case of Rwandan terrorism suspect, Victoire Ingabire, President Kagame said the trial was factual and not political as some had chosen to label it.
“There is more than enough evidence obtained from different sources. It is a very interesting case because it brings out an issue where at the beginning The Netherlands government was withholding evidence and at the same time accusing the Rwandan government of holding Ingabire illegally. Instead of making false accusations, people should look at the evidence presented in court.”
On perceived lack of press freedom in Rwanda, President Kagame said inaccurate statements are made based on hearsay and that whenever a journalist dies or meets an accident, the cause notwithstanding, fingers automatically point to the President or the government;
“There are people out there who disregard all facts on the ground, the progress being made and keep hammering on issues that portray the Rwandan government as a killer of journalists. Do they think we outright hate journalists? And why should we hate only local journalists? As far as I know, journalists from all over the world come to Rwanda to do reporting freely and I have never heard anyone complain – why aren’t they affected?”
Answering a question on whether contemporary African youth are on the right track, President Kagame said that different generations face different challenges and that the more young people there are, the more challenges there are to confront. However, he noted that there are more tools and opportunities available today for the youth than there were in the past.
On the leader he would prefer as his successor, President Kagame said that although the story of Rwanda is similar to other African societies, Rwanda’s history was a complex one and that the best leader would be one who understands the country and its background very well.
“We need leaders who are disciplined and firm. Rwanda’s history involves a lot of emotions, in confronting that kind of situation you need to be balanced and avoid emotions; you need to desist from being swayed one way or the other.”
On relations with Uganda, President Kagame said that there was no problem between Rwanda and Uganda, or between him and President Museveni, and that this was manifested by his presence in Uganda.
“We have ironed out issues that existed between the two countries because we think strategically. It shouldn’t just be heard from me, it should be felt in the relationship between the people of Uganda and Rwanda”.
Listen to the podcast of the conference http://www.paulkagame.tv/podcast/