The New Times (Kigali)

21 July 2010

Rwanda: Elections Will Be Free And Fair - Kagame

Photo: Urugwiro Village
President Kagame at the press conference (file photo).

Urugwiro Village — PRESIDENT Paul Kagame, has assured the public that the forthcoming elections will be held in a free and fair environment and will not interrupt the country's peace and stability.

Addressing the monthly news conference at Urugwiro Village - probably the last one of his 7-year term - President Kagame said that he is certain that the voting will be conducted in a transparent manner.

"I have no doubt that this election will be conducted in a free, fair and stable manner and the outcome will be reflecting what Rwandans wanted in the first place. That, I can guarantee," Kagame said.

Despite reports suggesting that the President will win the elections, Kagame said that he would not take anything for granted and will embark on a 3-week countrywide campaign tour, where he will account for the last 7 years, and ask Rwandans to entrust him and his party, RPF, another term in office. He added that he is confident that his party has delivered a lot in terms of development and transforming the country.

The President pointed out that if Rwandans do not vote him back, he will, willingly, pass the baton to the winning candidate.

Kagame, further cautioned, against "self appointed spokespersons" who want to determine what is best for Rwandans. The decision of who leads Rwanda is solely for Rwandans, the President said, adding that foreigners should have nothing to do with the choices Rwandans make.

"Let nobody be mistaken about Rwanda's commitment, dedication and determination to shape her future," Kagame said, adding that some people are determined to continue referring to Rwanda as a "failed state" but that will not be the case because Rwandans will not let anyone decide for them who they want to be.

The President further accused some foreigners of seeking to impose what they would like to portray as "legitimate opposition" on Rwanda, adding that opposition is not established from outside the country and that outsiders cannot determine what and who the opposition is.

"You may create an opposition, but who manages it: will you create it from outside and keep managing it from inside? It will be difficult for you and those you have created," Kagame said. "First of all, as an outsider, you have no business creating anything political in another country."

Kagame, clarified that his responsibility, as President, is to create an environment that would enable the opposition to develop but not to create the opposition itself.

The President criticised the section of the media that are attempting to create the impression that the country is facing a crisis, adding that if anything, Rwandans should be the ones to tell their story.

Commenting on the recent incident in Spain, during the MDG Advocacy Group in Madrid, where the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, did not meet him after he was pressurised by a group of "charities", Kagame said he was caught up between internal Spanish politics.

The President said that one or two Spanish MP's arm-twisted Zapatero into deciding not to take part in the meeting or they would not give him their vote.

Kagame and Zapatero are co-chairs the MDG Advocacy Group.

Spain, in 2008, issued indictments against 40 RPF officers, similar to French Judge Bruguiere's own indictments against Rwandan officials.

Both warrants have since been roundly denounced around the world as baseless and politically motivated.

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