Rwandan President Kagame accuses West of double standards on democracy

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Rwanda's President Paul Kagame talks during an interview in Kigali, Rwanda on September 6, 2020. PHOTO | REUTERS

What you need to know:

  • Mr Kagame, who has been President of Rwanda since 2000, was responding to a question about critics who accuse him of clinging to power.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Monday accused Western countries of adopting “double standards” on democracy, ahead of next month’s general elections in the country.

Mr Kagame, who has been President of Rwanda since 2000, was responding to a question about critics who accuse him of clinging to power.

“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,” Mr Kagame said, speaking in an interview on national television. 

“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,” he said. 

President Kagame’s comments came days after the country’s National Electoral Commission cleared him and two other candidates to run in the presidential election next month.

Mr Kagame is a candidate of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF). His two challengers are Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate. 

President Kagame pointed out that the political context of every country matters in politics, adding that lines of thinking are going to be different from one place to another, wondering whether the democracy being practised in Rwanda is the opposite of the description of democracy.

“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?” 

”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,” he added. 

Rwandans will go to the polls to elect the president and members of parliament on July 15.