News / Africa

20 Years After Genocide, Rwanda Prospers but Political Freedom Remains Elusive

20 Years After Genocide, Rwanda Prospers But Political Freedom Remains Elusivei
X
April 09, 2014 7:29 PM
Rwanda is a country on the move, having rebuilt from the 1994 genocide that divided the nation and left an estimated 800,000 people dead. But as VOA's Gabe Joselow reports, some say the country's recovery has come at the cost of political freedom.
Gabe Joselow
Rwanda today is a remarkable story of renewal and rapid economic development.

Looking around the capital, it is hard to imagine that only 20 years ago, the country was torn apart by one of the worst atrocities of the last century. 
 
Visitors often remark on Kigali's impeccably clean streets, high-tech efficiency and the ease of doing business. But critics say despite these advances, the government has left little room for the opposition.

“There isn't really any democracy that one can speak of in Rwanda," said Carina Tertsakian, a Rwanda researcher for Human Rights Watch. "Opposition parties are not able to function. There are currently two opposition party leaders who are in prison serving sentences respectively of 15 years and four years, and other members of those and other parties who have been in and out of prison several times.”

President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front are the dominant political forces in Rwanda. There is only one registered opposition party and many political opponents have fled into exile. While the country has progressed economically during Kagame's time in office, opponents say it has come at the cost of political freedom.

“I do not agree that to be able to develop you've got to sacrifice people's rights," said Theogene Rudasingwa, a member of the opposition Rwanda National Congress who spoke to VOA in Washington. "In fact, all literature and human experience shows that for there to be prosperity for people, for a country to build, you've got to enrich people's rights.”

In January, one of Rudasingwa's colleagues, Patrick Karegeya, a former spy chief for the government, was found dead in a South Africa hotel room. Rwandan officials who accuse the opposition of planning attacks in Rwanda cheered Karegeya's death but denied any involvement. 

At a genocide memorial event outside Kigali, Rwandan Defense Minister James Kabarebe had a stern message for those who challenge the government.

“There are some who tried to [take the country backward] and there are those who have this ideology, they are there, but I know they will die with that ideology,” he said.

According to Rudasingwa, opposition members in exile live under constant threat.

“We are concerned, we've made these concerns known to the governments, but besides that, change is a very costly business and freedom doesn't come cheap,” he said.

A generation removed from the genocide, Rwanda is moving forward.  But opposition figures worry that lingering tension and the crackdown on dissent could mar the country's future.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid