Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Rwanda: Twagiramungu responds to charges of "divisive speech"

It's only been nine years since the Rwandan Genocide and the country is still raw and sensitive to anything/anybody who could provoke ethnic divisions. It is Rwandan law that nobody appeal to ethnicity during elections. Now, you have to decide if opposition candidate Faustin Twagiramungu is guilty of that ... or if the government and its supporters are using that issue as a cover to attack a viable candidate. Here is how Twagiramungu responded:
The [National Electoral] commission pointed out specific sentences in them [election flyers] that it said were indicative of the divisive nature of Twagiramungu's campaign. One of the sentences says that If I am elected, I will fight for the division of Rwandans.

However, Twagiramungu denied the charges by the commission, attributing the problems to a typographical error. He said that if the sentence were read in context, and in its Kinyarwanda meaning, one could see this wasn't the intended message.

Mr Karangwa [president of commission] also accused Twagiramungu of harping on the distinction between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes in his campaign speeches, which he said revealed a lurking obsession with the dangerous politics of ethnicity. ...

But Twagiramungu said all this was part of a sustained attempt to derail his campaign. "I don't know what exactly you can construe as divisive speech in this country," he said, and asked: "Should we therefore strike the words Hutu and Tutsi out of the Rwandan vocabulary?"
The post right below this one also deals with Rwanda's presidential elections and it will lead you to earlier posts on the issue.