Saturday, August 23, 2003

Rwanda: profile of Faustin Twagiramungu

With the Rwandan presidential election on Monday, I thought I would share this profile of Faustin Twagiramungu that I came across recently.

Please note that at the bottom of the profile, it says "Reported by Faustin Twagiramungu, Michael Wakabi and Shaka Kanuma" ... unless there's another Faustin Twagiramungu, it would appear the candidate had a hand in writing the profile. But this doesn't negate the value of the piece.

In addition to Twagiramungu, there are two other candidates facing off against President Paul Kagame who is expected to easily win Monday's poll. Twagiramungu is considered Kagame's most serious opponent because he has a name in the country. Twagiramungu was a target of the militas during the genocide and barely escaped with his life. He is also a Hutu who served as Prime Minister in a post-genocide government with Paul Kagame's RPF. He fled to Belgium after a year in that post because he had a falling out with the RPF.

Twagiramungu was recently accused by Rwanda's National Electoral Commission of appealing to "ethnic divisions" ... a charge he denies.

If you can, read the entire profile ... here is an excerpt to whet your appetite.
As a Hutu and a former leader of the Movement Democratique Republicain (MDR) to which many Hutus subscribed until it was banned this year, one would think that Twagiramungu has the Hutu ethnic vote in his pocket.
But he is incensed that anyone in Rwanda should accuse him of playing the ethnic card. "There must be something wrong with people in Rwanda!" he exclaims.

"Why should everything become a Hutu, Tutsi issue? For instance, do you know many Hutus in this country actually hate me and will not vote for me? They blame and hate me because the changes I instigated in the past led to the Hutus' fall from power." What Twagiramungu is alluding to, is his earlier political life in the early 1990s as an activist for change in Rwanda, and for the institution of multiparty opposition politics.
RPF = Rwandan Patriotic Front