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Faith Nyasuguta

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has criticized Western countries for their “double standards” on democracy ahead of the upcoming general elections in Rwanda next month. Responding to accusations of holding onto power, Mr. Kagame, who has led Rwanda since 2000, emphasized the importance of internal choice over external dictates in democratic processes.

In an interview on national television, Mr. Kagame stated, “Democracy is about freedom of choice. If that is the case unless the definition has changed over time, I have never known of any place where democracy has succeeded when principles and ideals have been dictated from the outside.” He argued that the length of his tenure is a matter for Rwandans to decide, not external critics. 

“They say you have been there too long, but that is none of their business … Rwandans are the ones to make those choices. They have the freedom to do it. But you find that in most cases, the complaints are from outside. These are double standards; it’s even arrogance.”

These remarks follow the National Electoral Commission’s clearance of Mr. Kagame and two other candidates for the presidential election next month. Mr. Kagame represents the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), while his challengers include Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana.

Paul Kagame/ Lemonde/

President Kagame highlighted the significance of the political context in different countries, suggesting that democratic practices may vary according to local contexts. He questioned whether Rwanda’s version of democracy is fundamentally different from the conventional understanding of the term. 

Some of these countries have strict rules, and they don’t want anybody to interfere in their politics, but they find it easy to get involved in other people’s politics. What sense does it make?” he asked.

Kagame further criticized foreign interference in domestic political affairs, stating, “If interfering in other people’s affairs is wrong, what gives you the right to go and get involved in other people’s affairs … Some of them are leaders of their own countries in spite of their very low ratings. But that is democracy I’m told.”

The Rwandan general elections, set for July 15, will see the electorate choosing the president and members of parliament. 

Mr. Kagame’s critique underscores ongoing debates about the influence of external actors in shaping democratic norms and practices within sovereign nations. His comments reflect broader concerns about the imposition of foreign democratic ideals and the sovereignty of nations to determine their own political paths.

/The Independent/


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Faith Nyasuguta

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