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US Condemned for Failing to Give Rwanda its ’Political Space’—Rwanda’s Ambassador

Rwanda’s envoy to the United Nations (UN) has rebuked the United States for criticizing the lack of political space in his country and for warning against a government centred around one man.

Rwanda’s government has also been blamed of not allowing Journalists to discuss or air out political affairs or even report on issues of public concern.

The United States has long condemned President Paul Kagame’s third term ambitions and again raised the issue during a broader UN Security Council discussion on the stability in the Great Lakes Region.

The United States Ambassador Samantha Power questioned the democratic space in several countries in the region - Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, but got a vigorous retort from her Rwandan counterpart.

Power lauded the economic and social progress made in Rwanda since the genocide but lamented its record on protecting civil and political rights in the country.

"The United States remains deeply committed to our partnership with Rwanda, but the continued absence of political space, the inability of individuals and journalists to discuss political affairs or report on issues of public concern - poses a serious risk to Rwanda’s future stability.

Rwanda can achieve lasting peace and prosperity through a government centred on the principle of democratic accountability, not centred on any one single individual," says Power.

Her comments hit a nerve with Rwanda’s Ambassador Eugene-Richard Gasana who accused the United States of trying to occupy his country’s political space.

"If as she was stating, Mrs Samantha, that over the past 25 years Rwanda has made the most progress in the world in terms of human development. We know what is good for Rwanda and Rwandans.

You do not really have to agree with us, but you can respect our choices. There are some of the things we might disagree with your country, but there is nothing we can do about it. We leave it to you," says Gasana

He called President Kagame a hero to Rwandans attributing much of their progress to him. "Luckily he went back home and stopped the genocide and luckily I went back home too and all, the Security Council, in 1994, on a daily basis having over ten thousand people killed, what have you done - nothing. This man there, he was the only one to take his responsibility and stop the genocide."

Ambassador Power earlier cautioned the leaders of Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and the DRC, that the choices they make now will determine whether the gains their countries have made are sustained and how they as individuals will be remembered decades from now.

By Robert Muriisa.

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