11 January 2013

Rwanda: Youth Discuss Peace Building

Photo: F. Kanyesigye
Standing in line to vote (file photo).

Rwanda's democracy is home-grown since the Western system of governance has never been universal, Senate president Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo has said.

Ntawukuriryayo, who was speaking at a youth workshop on peace building organised by Never Again Rwanda, said criticisms of the Kigali government are based on unfounded allegations.

The Senate chief was yesterday responding to queries from participants of the forum at the Senate room in Kimihurura.

The third edition of the Peace Building Institute forum attracted participants from the US, South Africa, Dominican Republic and Hongkong.

The participants wondered why the Rwanda has always been criticised by the international community for poor democratic practices.

"We were once in a class and a US diplomat said Rwanda has got good governance but with poor democracy, why is it criticised," said one of the participants.

Ntawukuriryayo said Rwanda has good governance, arguing that democracy has never been universal.

No sectarianism

Rwanda follows the constitution and that constitution is clear about multiparty system, they don't have a point in criticising our system," said Ntawukuriryayo, adding that Rwanda's choice matches the history and context of Rwanda.

"People have freedom of speech and political space, the law protects them. I think we shall never allow any political party which is going to come to Rwanda now and start operating against Article 54 of our Constitution. We can't let anyone to teach sectarianism, ethnicity, etc, we know where we have been with those," the Senate president said.

Never Again Rwanda is an association of Rwandan youth who dream to share the peace building achievements of the country globally. It currently has 7,000 members countrywide, according to its president Uwitonze Mahoro Eric.

The participants, who were eager to know about the true story of Rwanda's politics, asked about the transparency of elections and the role of the Senate in electioneering.

'No shoe fits all'

Contributing to the workshop, the Senate vice president, Bernard Makuza, said it is a contradiction to say Rwanda has good governance with poor democratic grades, arguing that you cannot have good governance without democratic rule.

Makuza added that democracy is a matter of principle and a choice.

"There is no shoe that fits all," he said, adding, "we want to build democracy which considers our context."

Promise Thembelihle Shabangu, 24, from South African said she has seen a lot of success stories in Rwanda, cutting exception to cleanliness, good infrastructure and determined youth.

Besides, more of the participants said that their perception on Rwanda has changed compared to what they had heard before coming to Rwanda.

"Many of us back home see Rwanda as a post-genocide country, but that's nothing like what I experienced after reaching because I saw a lot of development it has transcended since the genocide," said Cody Harder, 23, from the Eastern Washington University.

The president of Never Again Rwanda, Eric Uwitonze Mahoro, said he hopes the participants learn a lot about the image of Rwanda contrary to what they read from the media.

This year's workshop begun on December 29 and ends today.

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