A no-holds-barred debate, of the kind that one cannot hear inside Rwanda, erupted online this week. People expressed themselves freely about the ongoing campaign to remove presidential term limits from the constitution so that Paul Kagame can continue in power after 2017. The debate reveals that there is far more to Rwanda than the dictatorship allows the world to know via massive PR.
For several months now, there has been a quiet but determined push to extend President Paul Kagame’s rule in Rwanda. Kagame was elected in 2003 and 2010 (this time with a 92.9 percent landslide) and is therefore ineligible to stand again. The Rwandan Constitution stipulates that the president is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once. It reiterates that “under no circumstances” shall a person hold the office of president for more than two terms. Kagame’s allies intend to amend this clause to allow him to run again when his current term ends in 2017.
Kagame himself has not categorically stated his position on the matter, but hints about his wish to remain in power have been widely reported. Powerful individuals around him have said he should stay on. An unmistakable signal went out in December 2013 when Kagame was overwhelmingly re-elected chairman of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front, garnering 99.5 per cent of the votes cast.
There is little debate about the third term issue inside Rwanda, where Kagame heads a brutal Tutsi dictatorship. Even mild criticism of the regime or mere expression of an alternative political view could easily earn one a long jail term on trumped up charges, exile, disappearance or assassination.
On Monday this week, a gripping debate on the third term push erupted spontaneously on Facebook. It is the kind of debate that one can not expect to hear inside Rwanda - where the opposition, independent media, civil society, churches, the academia and other spaces for free expression have been silenced. In a matter of hours, the online debate had drawn in many different voices from inside and outside Rwanda. Below are the exchanges. Pambazuka News has edited the comments for clarity and relevance.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: The Rwandan third term (sad) debate: Personally, given my conservative and pan-African background, I am no supporter of so-called presidential term limits as a means to quality democracy, as it has no bearing on getting millions of vulnerable poor people out of poverty and ending many injustices against millions of our defenseless people across Africa. However, on Rwanda, I think the biggest enemy of the state or RPF [the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front"> adventure for the third term is that person who out of either excitement or by omission or commission smuggled or gave birth to Article 101 of the constitution and nailed it with line 2 (exceptional clause) that says, “...under no circumstances should a person hold the office of the President for more than two terms (7 year each)...” Under no circumstances means not even by the overwhelming popularity of the incumbent or flooding will or appetite of the "people" wanting that president to stay longer (note Article 99 has no age limit for the president though it puts the minimum age at 35). So who brought that "curtain rope and white towel” in our holy room (constitution) and is now busy strangling our President? Ibrahim Asuman Bisiika, Robert M Sebufirira, Gonza Mugi, Bob Mugabe, Ignatius Kateera, Charles Kambanda, that’s my take on this whole thing.
HENRY MAKORI: "Under no circumstances" should be clear. Absolutely categorical. Were all those framers of the constitution out of their minds?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: I really don’t know what they were up to but I think they were clear: no reason or factor or circumstance whatsoever should lead to the change of the article on term limits. So I don’t know what the current agitators are up to when thy allowed themselves to be [put"> in chains.
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Those who wrote that statement are people (Rwandans) and those that approved the whole document are people (Rwandans) and it’s the same people (Rwandans) who can repeal it. We are people; there is no way we could forecast circumstances that may prevail 14 years to come just like we cannot predict what may prevail in the next minute. That is my opinion!
HENRY MAKORI: Given the historical circumstances surrounding the writing of that constitution, it should be obvious why the framers put in that tight clause. In fact the high-level campaigns to change the clause to allow Kagame to run for a third or even fifth term prove the fears of the framers of the constitution.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: By the way, who are these people we are talking about who have discovered circumstances (whatever they are) now, Shukuru Ruyondo Rwa Rugambanengwe? Sometimes it is not good to eat your own words.
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Sometimes because we are humans and not able to predict circumstances in future that’s why we may decide to #REVIEW what we wrote in the past! It is a section of people (who may actually turn out to be the majority) who look at the circumstances prevailing now and say, akomeze kwesa imihigo!
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Henry Makori, I strongly agree that the framers of the constitution, and that very article, were not night dancers or stupid. They had very good reasons rooted in historical reasons and love for their country and leaders. That constitution since 2003 has been changed five times with the latest being in 2013 when it received real surgery to the core but the article and clause were left [intact">. Why now? What are those circumstances that [necessitate amendment">?
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Using words like stupid or night dancers sounds weird boss!
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: That’s why there are things such as divorce in marriage. When you meet this beautiful lady, you are in love at that moment but don't know what the future holds, because you are human. If this lady changes or you change and become unbearable, divorce becomes inevitable. Should we call divorcees stupid and night dancers? In short, you cannot divorce if you have never been married.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Boss, my statement was, I don’t think the framers of that article and clause were night dancers or stupid. The catchword is, I don’t think. Don’t twist words here. The marriage vows, do they have the words “under no circumstances” should this marriage break?
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: I also said the words "under no circumstances" were written by people who cannot forecast things even in the next minute. Why do you want to create angels in human flesh here?
HENRY MAKORI: What is not being said in this lively debate is that Rwanda has many other men and women besides Kagame who should be allowed the chance by Rwandan people to ably lead the country. Why should it be made to look like without just one person the destiny of the entire nation is doomed? Why change the constitution to benefit just one man and the small elite around him benefiting disproportionately from his stay in power?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: How do we arrive at the conclusion that they are people who cannot forecast things in the next minute? I think they were very focused people and wished good for Rwanda beyond an individual.
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Yes, they were focused, but if we can go to individual level, do you still have the same plans you had 14 years ago? Or is the strategy you had to achieve certain set goals still the same 100 percent? Do you always achieve what you planned to achieve 100 percent?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: We are talking of legal and fundamental issues of democracy and good governance and not merely plans. Laws are preventative in nature, forecasting the eventuality that would disorient the present. Laws especially the constitution is beyond assumptions. It is the aspirations and will of the people. So “under no circumstances” was clear and was aimed at curtailing the current agitators disguising [themselves as"> the majority of the people.
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Good. Now, do you want to tell me that a constitution should never be amended?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: My brother, there is no constitution in the world that can’t be amended but it must be amended according to the provisions well set in the constitution for amendment. In this case the article is an entrenched clause and the locker is: “under no circumstances”. So why bring circumstances that the constitution said shouldn’t prevail on this article? I think President Kagame has a life after the presidency and there are many Rwandans who can ably take up the mantle.
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: The moment you agree that a constitution can be amended, that’s all I want to hear from you. Those articles you are talking about (that cannot be amended) can never exist in isolation.
HENRY MAKORI: Perfectly put, my brother Nuwamanya Wakabirigi Sulah! Question is: How long will it take the Kagame Power apologists like the one you have here to see this point? You kill, imprison or force into exile many people who could provide credible, alternative leadership for the country. And then you and your cronies start this propaganda that it is only you who is an able leader and should therefore be allowed to rule for life. Long live the Land of a Thousand Hills!
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: And why do you want to create circumstances in isolation? It’s them [politicians"> who locked the door and put salt into the padlock. Now why are they crying?
MU ZI: Nuwamanya Wakabirigi Sulah, does the scrapping of term limits in any given country mean that the incumbent leader will or might rule for life?
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: Henry, you tend to forget that we are humans. If you think that you will be understood and live in harmony with everybody that you know and those who don't know you, [then"> I rest my case! Even Jesus who was sent by God had enemies, why not PK [Paul Kagame">? My point is not about keeping PK in power for as long as he lives; my point is about amendment of the constitution!
HENRY MAKORI: Shukuru, you want to distract people by creating the impression that the amendment debate is happening in the air and not on the ground in Rwanda: where the debate has a clear political context! The amendment debate is not an abstraction, as you would have us believe. It is about President Paul Kagame. Period.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Ruyondo, our countries had good and credible constitutions until these sole visionary leaders took us for a ride and held us at ransom. We had a chance of seeing a peaceful transition of power in Uganda, until these agitators [removed presidential term limits">. So I had my last hope in Urwagasabo and now these Kagame fellows are also taking it away from me.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: @MU Zi. Does it mean he may not rule for life? Do you have [anything to hold you back"> after you have removed term limits? And for the case of Rwanda there is no age limit, meaning ruling for life under the guise of people wanting you to stay is automatic. Besides, who forced them at gunpoint to insert the article on term limits and to go ahead and lock it with the “under no circumstances” line? As I said earlier, I am no fan of term limits and I think Africa has more issues to worry about - poverty, injustice and building stronger institutions - than term limits really. But it’s RPF led by its chairman that brought that article and has upheld it since 2003. Why are they creating circumstances that themselves said should never be allowed to crop up? What’s happening now to make them change their minds like this?
SHUKURU RUYONDO RWA RUGAMBANENGWE: You guys seem to be misguided! Sula, please bring these members back to the main topic! If not, bye for now!
HENRY MAKORI: Shukuru! What was the topic, again?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Shukuru Ruyondo Rwa Rugambanengwe, I really hate these things of “we are human” just because we want Kagame to rule again and again! Why see that we are human only now? That’s deceptive.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Shukuru Ruyondo Rwa Rugambanengwe, who has strayed now I bring him back? Please guide me.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Ruyondo, don't run away! Some of us have a recurring pain towards that country, because we lost our young and vibrant ones to that war, so I appeal to the Kigali government to do us a favour and honour the constitution. The only gift President Kagame can give us is to retire and let others take the leadership. I really don't see why Rwanda should remove term limits.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: In my humble view, it’s President Kagame who locked down his boat with a strong padlock and threw away the keys. So it would be better if he allowed himself the honour as a good leader not to attempt to [break the padlock">, please.
HENRY MAKORI: JohnPaul Mugisha, perfectly said, man. Perfect! President Kagame owes Rwandans exit from office immediately his second term ends. He can retire to his farm and tend to his goats and write his memoirs; and attend court in the many law suits that will hopefully follow him...
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: I know Rwanda has a turbulent history and I know the minority communities may not feel secure if President Kagame leaves power but I also doubt whether he is the one keeping them safe. It’s the Almighty. Second, Sula if a Hutu politician takes over power, how will the situation be? How will the endangered Tutsi minority survive? We have a lot of questions here to answer.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Johnpaul Mugisha, I tend to avoid brainwashing myself with the so-called Tutsi, Hutu or Twa disease and tie it with the third term. I strongly believe Rwandans will live strongly together with or without President Kagame in power. Just as many thought that without Habyarimana Rwanda would never exist but here we are! It has moved on with many taking up huge responsibilities of leadership in their diverse social setups. Let’s not start instilling fear in Rwandans by invoking the so-called Hutu, Tutsi [identities">. Do you mean under Kagame poverty spares the so-called Tutsi or the not so-called Tutsi are suffering any injustice just because Kagame is the President, and have Hutus been [exterminated">? I hate such arguments.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: I think, Sula, you didn't read my post exhaustively, where I said God is the one who protects. Second, Sula you can't write off what I have written because I have talked to many Rwandans and, trust me, however much you hate it, [the differences are"> there. So instead of hurting, let’s try to find a remedy. Sula I would have told you what a young man told me but it’s childish in a sense. But it was from his heart. There is no way you can avoid the ethnicity in Rwandan politics. It is inevitable.
DAYO ADEWUNMI: Whenever this issue of term extensions comes up in Africa, Western nations are usually quick to criticize this as undemocratic. Whether or not the citizens on the ground are in favour of this, is usually irrelevant to Western critics. To get an idea of how weird this behaviour of the West is, have a look at term limits in Europe. [posts Wikipedia link"> Some notable examples:
1. Germany: Chancellor: Unlimited terms! That is, Angela Merkel can run for election for as often as she wants. This is Germany! Europe's strongest and biggest economy. Mr. Helmut Kohl served as Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998! 16 years!
2. United Kingdom: Prime Minister: Unlimited terms! That is, James Cameron can stay for as long as he manages to win elections! UK! The leader country of the Commonwealth!
3. Italy: President: Unlimited 7-year terms!
4. Serbia: President: Unlimited 5-year terms!
The point is, if we Rwandans choose to make the necessary amendments to provide further presidential terms or even remove presidential term limits entirely, that is for us, the Rwandan people, to decide. We should have enough self-respect to trust that we are indeed capable of deciding what is best for us, without having our opinions and decisions dictated to us by "democratic" Western interests. The West does not have a monopoly on democracy, and no two countries in the world have the same democratic systems.
RUKUNDO DAVID CORLEONE: But that clause "under no circumstances" is imputed to a person and can be amended just the same way.
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: Is there an emergency, that by respecting it [the clause"> the country would turn upside down?
DAYO ADEWUNMI: Rukundo, exactly. That is in fact the purpose of constitutional amendments. Constitutions are not The Ten Commandments. Constitutions are based on the best of what respective governments had to offer at a given point in time. And amendments ensure that constitutions do not over time end up being detrimental to the people. The United States alone has TWENTY-SEVEN amendments in its constitution.
If the Rwandan Constitution stated it is forbidden for women to seek employment, would it serve the people of this country to stick to this article of the constitution? Any given constitution is not an end to itself. It is not dogma. It is an instrument for democracy. Democracy is will of the people. The constitution is a manifestation of the will of the people. It is merely a tool to ensure justice, progress and prosperity of a country.
RUKUNDO DAVID CORLEONE: Henry Makori, when you say there are many Rwandans who can lead, let’s apply basic maths here: the ratio of good leaders per 1000 people may be 1 or less. Risking the future of the nation just to find that second 1/1000 person is not worth the risk, however good that second person might be. So mathematically speaking, the future of the country is more important than term limits.
RUKUNDO DAVID CORLEONE: Dayo, that’s true...democracy is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
IBRAHIM ASUMAN BISIIKA. Guys, I have read through the length of the thread. @Shukuru Ruyondo and David Rukundo Corleone, you are good men. I actually support you. But as someone said, this debate is not in the clouds; it exists in time and space. It has subjects and protagonists. The constitution provides for procedures for constitutional amendments, correct? But there are clauses that are not subject to amendment. Then how do you amend a constitutional clause whose amendment is not provided for in the constitution? That means you would be amending it outside the constitution, correct? So for me I bring a new suggestion: let’s throw the stubborn constitution away and write another one. Because you can’t amend that clause using the same constitution or people's wishes. The truth is that "people's wishes” have NEVER been law (we call that mob justice) not part of the constitution until they are codified. So let’s write another constitution where we shall codify the "people's wishes" and then we can live our little sweet happy lives ever after. I hope this time we shall not forget to put a clause that deals with ethnic fears.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Ibrahim, there are facts in Rwandan politics you can never ignore: one, there is always a power struggle and scepticism between the Tutsi and Hutu. That’s a fact you can never take away. There are millions of Hutus living in jungles of Democratic Republic of Congo and one day they will have to come back home. So the [priority"> of the Rwandan government shouldn't be lifting term limits but harmonizing all parties which were locked out of political participation, because these guys are Rwandan. Believe me or not one day they will come back home, so our challenge should be how to settle and rehabilitate them. Second, I am from the Tutsi community but I can't guarantee my own safety and the safety of my children when I talk about Rwanda's politics. To me it’s more than politics: it’s survival.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: John Paul Mugisha, are you saying the Tutsi are safe or safer under Kagame or a Tutsi-dominated government as you have it now? If this is your take, you are mistaken. Are you aware of the innumerable Tutsi Kagame has slaughtered for his political survival? Are you aware of the innumerable Tutsi that have fled Rwanda and continue to flee Rwanda? Are you aware of the various Tutsi in Kagame's prisons, for no apparent reason save for being perceived as enemies of the Kagame junta? Are you more Tutsi than all these victims? I believe you know that the King is in exile too. You certainly know the King is Tutsi. If being Tutsi makes you safe under a Tutsi ruler, I would guess all Tutsi, including the King, should be safe under a Tutsi ruler - Kagame now. Johnpaul Mugisha, you are probably mistaken. I hope you are not saying that the Hutu are necessarily safe or safer under a Hutu ruler. Are you?
In my considered view, Rwanda has had ethnic militants (cliques) loading it over others under the pretext of protecting their ethnic group. Some Tutsi rulers are enemies to some of their fellow Tutsi as they are enemies to some Hutu. The same applies to the Hutu rulers Rwanda had before. Either way, no group is safe or safer.
What Rwandans have never tried - and this is the only safe environment for all of them - is rule of law, responsible and responsive governance including but not limited to independent institutions, institutionalizing respect for human rights which should lead to equitable and fair practices, creating nationhood as opposed to nurturing ethnic militants, and accepting that all ethnic groups of Rwanda have had victims and perpetrators of horrific crimes; each ethnic group is legitimate with legitimate history.
What does it benefit the Hutu or Tutsi to be in power for a couple of years as they wait for their turn to go into exile? Isn't it pure madness? If you thought that Kagame's or a Tutsi's being in power guarantees your safety because you are Tutsi, I am afraid, you have not read that country's book of history!
Assuming, arguendo, you feel safe or safer under a Tutsi ruler and so Kagame should be allowed to rule above the two terms limit. Are you saying Kagame is the only Tutsi who can rule for purposes of guaranteeing the Tutsis' safety - like you?
If the Tutsi feel safe or safer when their own is in power, isn't it logical that the Hutu should feel safe or safer when their own is in power? Going by your logic, Mugisha, don't the Hutu have a right to feel safe or safer by having their man in power for some time as you have had your man in power for some time?
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: I didn't say that. What I said was about my safety be it in Kagame- or post-Kagame era. I am surprised that I talked about millions of Hutus living in Congo but you only picked up what you wanted to criticise me about. Between me, one person, and millions who are dying in Congo, who is in a more dire situation for rescue?
CHARLES KAMBANDA: My apologies. I missed out on some premises of your argument; I got your argument wrongly! However, the issues I raised above remain critical.
IBRAHIM ASUMAN BISIIKA: Johnpaul Mugisha, so should we amend the constitution unconstitutionally?
NUWAMANYA WAKABIRIGI SULAH: I refuse to involve myself in the apologetic and scare-mongering discussions of Johnpaul Mugisha for justifying an illegality.
IBRAHIM ASUMAN BISIIKA: Johnpaul Mugisha makes it sound as if there is a new-found fear for Tutsi survival that was not envisaged 14 years ago. But Charles Kambanda's delivery was very instructive... If the Tutsis and Hutus have fears, even we Batwa have our fears.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: I didn't bring out my ethnicity for discussion or to create empathy or guilt in people's minds. My point is very clear and genuine. Sula, I told you that I don't agree with tampering with the constitution to remove term limits. After that I tried to lecture those holding power in Kigali to do as much reconciliation as possible to bring all the warring factions to build a unified Rwanda. Kambanda, I don't know how many Tutsi Kagame has killed; that’s for you to tell the world. My concern is me and my children playing in the neighbourhood and no one harassing them because of their looks; nor my neighbours being harassed because of theirs. I want to see a Rwanda which all of us are proud to be a part of. Sula, that’s why I urge the Kigali government to extend amnesty to FDLR [Hutu rebel group"> and the Kayumba Nyamwasas, so that we build a better Rwanda.
FRANK LEFEVER: I have to laugh at the pseudo-intellectual assertions that "no one can predict the future". After more than a half-century career in the behavioral and neurological sciences I am well aware that prediction of EXACT events is always uncertain. However, we all need to predict, to "place our bets", knowing we may be wrong but using what information we have to be correct MOST of the time.
FRANK LEFEVER: The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. This is true for individuals and for societies or nations. It is HIGHLY PREDICTABLE that a person who achieves personal power will try to keep it - forever. Presidents may be democratically elected but use their office and power to become "President for Life". They will use any means available - bribery, lies, and murder included.
FRANK LEFEVER: If Kagame continues in office, his future behavior can be safely predicted from his past behavior, which is ghastly by any democratic or humane standard. Charles Kambanda quite rightly points out that Kagame is not a protector of Tutsis -- he is a protector of Kagame and those few Tutsis who are closest to him; and even they must live in constant fear of his disapproval or even his distrust.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Now this discussion is going astray as Sula predicted. We are taking about tempering with the constitution by removing term limits by either Kagame or his successors. Today it might serve Kagame, tomorrow someone else. What I and Sula were saying is to simply leave it as it is. My additional point was about survival of my ethnic group, which was once threatened to the extent of almost extinction. As they say "once bitten twice shy". In all these political maneuvers I have to think of the future and that’s what Israelis has done to live amongst their cousins, the Arabs.
FRANK LEFEVER: This is off-topic, but what Israel has done to "live amongst their cousins" has made life dangerous for both Jews and Arabs (inside Israel and outside).
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Israelis and Arabs are mainly disturbed by their huge egos. Second, do they both have an alternative solution to the problems? If so, they should try it for they have shed enough blood.
FRANK LEFEVER: The history is, Europeans (who happened to be Jewish) flooded into an Arab land and displaced its inhabitants. Those they did not drive completely out to refugee camps in other countries they subjected to repressive control. Some Israelis profit from this more than others, just as some Americans and Europeans profit from military expansion and control of national and international economies. Increasingly, those who profit are fewer and richer and more powerful; the rest of their citizens profit less and less as wealth is transferred from lower classes to the upper class.
FRANK LEFEVER: The top dogs do not lose much of their own blood. The ordinary citizens bear the burden.
EDGAR MUVUNYI TABARO: Charles Kambanda, you captured my sentiments well. It’s like we were seated at the same table. I've raised issues of ethnicity from my own experience in Uganda and Johnpaul Mugisha took great exception to it. I am surprised he brings out the same issues herein.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: Edgar Muvunyi Tabaro, like teacher like student! You taught me how to think. You taught me constitutional law. You are a great lawyer and a great professor. I am pretty sure you did a great job.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: Edgar Muvunyi, there is something I learnt from Kambanda in his post relating to what I had written. When I talked about my ethnicity he rushed out at me telling me how Kagame & Co don't necessarily protect Tutsis in Rwanda but their own interests, which I agreed with him to a certain extent. I remember in one of your posts Edgar you wrote about your children who are less than 10 years old being harassed as genocidaires. Hope you remember it, counsel. My point wasn't about Tutsi or Hutu or Twa leading Rwanda but a leadership where all our ethnic groups are respected and accorded the dignity they deserve. Counsel, I am not afraid to say my ethnicity and I even tell my young children who we are. That’s why I always urge the Rwandan government to put in place all possible means for Hutu living in camps in Congo and other countries to return home and participate in our nation building. Edgar, am not of the view that we bury our history, the good and the ugly, but rather to learn from it. Many of us grew up in the diaspora but we don't wish it for our children. So Kagame should respect the Rwandan constitution. Kagame should think broader about the repercussions of change of the constitution. My brother Kambanda I am not more Tutsi than others; nor are they more Tutsi than me. I speak for myself and my children and their children's children. Rwanda is for us all and we have to know that ethnicity is there, so we live with it in mutual respect but above all in LOVE.
IBRAHIM ASUMAN BISIIKA: Ttudde Kumulamwa and your Hutu and Tutsi issues! The clause on term limits can only be amended outside the constitution. Since I still want Kagame to lead us, how do I go over it? Solution? The Godfrey Binaisa-Milton Obote solution. Throw out the constitution and write another one.
JOHNPAUL MUGISHA: The reason why such clauses are put in the constitution is for people like you who easily get excited and carried away. So your wishful thinking should make us abrogate the constitution because you still fancy Kagame as your head of state? Then people like Mandela and Clinton would have ruled for life because people loved them. @ Ibrahim? Let’s bring sanity when discussing matters of national importance.
HENRY MAKORI: Oh, I missed so much of this fascinating conversation, Frank LeFever and Nuwamanya Wakabirigi Sulah! Thank you Brother Sula for kicking off the debate. That we can debate at all: Amazing! This is precisely what the great people of Rwanda must be free to do everyday and everywhere whenever they wish - without having to look over their shoulders in fear.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: Kagame junta has violated the 2003 constitution in all aspects. Amending the constitution to allow himself in again shouldn't surprise anybody. In any case, Kagame does not have many choices. Either he remains in office - president - or he's indicted and probably arrested for international crimes including - possibly - genocide. Whether or not 2017 finds him alive or in that office is another issue.
HENRY MAKORI: You are right, Charles! The third term campaign is really about the survival of Paul Kagame and his cronies. Leaving office at the required time will expose him to the real possibility of prosecution. He and his cabal are obviously aware of that. Until he gets his own sidekick to replace him in power, so as to guarantee his security and freedom, Kagame is likely to cling to the presidency until he dies.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: It's impossible for Kagame to strike any deal that will protect him from prosecution after leaving that office. Assuming Rwandans agree that he won't be prosecuted in Rwanda - I do not see this happening, the ICC will probably force Rwandans to surrender him to ICC for prosecution. You do not expect Rwandans to resist such pressure for two major reasons: (1) Rwanda depends so much on aid, grants and loans and (2) Kagame has butchered the Hutu and Tutsi alike; I see no group protecting Kagame. We probably want to remember that if the ICC does not seek to prosecute Kagame, France and Spain will definitely take him on. Italy is probably working on some indictments for him too. The US might seek to prosecute him for the tourists he murdered and cheated the US that the tourists had been murdered by ALIR – the Hutu rebels. I am not sure Museveni is safe from this dossier!
Suppose Kagame is not prosecuted after leaving office, there is a US civil case awaiting his exit from office. President Obama was categorical when he granted immunity to Kagame; the immunity granted is functional! After leaving office, Kagame will face the law. Guess what, it's close to $400 million in compensation! That case will leave Kagame bankrupt no matter how much money he has stolen!
HENRY MAKORI: Charles, not sure about the ICC "forcing" Rwandans to surrender Kagame to The Hague. How will ICC do that? Or Western powers like the US, already Kagame's biggest backers, pursuing him. They fully protect him now and are likely to continue doing so in the future. The Uhuru Kenyatta ICC case in Kenya could provide some pointers. It is best to cling to power till death. That way Kagame can play the same games Uhuru has played with the West regarding his case at The Hague.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: Henry Makori, refer to M23 crimes report the UNSC adopted "as is"! You probably know why the Mapping report was shelved instead. Today, there are UNSC investigators in DRC investigating M23 crimes! The games the US and UNSC are playing with Kagame over FDLR say it all. Do you believe that the treatment Tanzania and South Africa are giving Kagame is by accident and not sanctioned by the US? Do you think ‘Rwanda Untold Story’ documentary the BBC aired was not sanctioned by the mightiest of the world? Why does Kagame cry so loud and nobody cares now? Why was Kagame and Museveni's M23 smoked out of Congo unceremoniously? Kagame is a political liability to the US and, certainly, he has outlived his utility! He was necessary for US and other Western allies to grab DRC natural resources; he served the purpose! You are probably talking about Kagame of two years ago! By the look of things, a Charles Taylor-like exit route might be in the making for PK!
EDGAR MUVUNYI TABARO: Leaves conversation.
CHARLES KAMBANDA: Dangerous debate!
[More on Rwanda in Letters & Opinions below.">
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