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Vol 42 No 25

Published 21st December 2001


Everything is risky

President Kagame prepares for national elections while his exiled military opponents regroup in Congo-Kinshasa

In our situation everything we do is risky...' General Paul Kagame told Africa Confidential on 9 December in Kigali as he explained plans to open up the country's politics ahead of national multi-party elections due in 2003. 'We inherited a very complex situation, we cannot hope for soft solutions.' Kagame's hard solution is to pack dozens of political and social reforms into two hectic years. His proclaimed reforms point to a national unity approach of the kind adopted by South Africa's African National Congress and outgoing National Party in 1990: a power-sharing government liberalising Rwanda's authoritarian politics and writing a new constitution in the run-up to free elections. It is no coincidence that South Africa is the Kigali government's strongest African supporter. Reality on the ground is different. Political currents are now a mélange of the options suggested by the Ugandan political scientist Mahmood Mamdani.

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