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Rwanda Needs to Learn how to Handle Dissent for Lasting Peace

Never Again!

I have to appreciate the efforts that have been made by the government of Rwanda on post genocide reconstruction. A lot of gains, especially economic, continue to be recorded by Rwanda. The country has equally done fairly well on dealing with its past realities. The genocide remains a recent history and as we approach April again we cannot help but remember. In the spirit of "never gain" we must continue having a discourse on Rwanda's stead rise and its prospect for a cohesive and prosperous nation. Indeed that is all I can wish for a country that about two decades ago faced annihilation of one of its two major ethnic groups.  

Accommodation of Dissent 

Rwanda has done some work on reconciliation but again reconciliation partly demands some high level of tolerance and sacrifice. It remains particularly difficult to forgive and reconcile with a person or persons who wiped out all your family. But in the same spirit of reconciliation, it is just necessary. This partly stretches to political accommodation and handling of political dissent. But there have been concerns on the manner in which political dissent is being handled in Rwanda. For instance, Human Rights Watch in its 2014 report raised concerns over the purported killings and disappearances, over time, of those who were suspected to have perpetrated the genocide in Rwanda. The danger of such incidences is that they threaten the process of reconciliation and lead to the nurturing of the desire for revenge which may in the long run destroy all the gains that have been made in the county so far. For instance, one would hypothesize that if and when a Hutu led government takes over, it may ignite the desire to perpetrate some crimes in the name of the state in revenge for what has been perceived by some Hutu dissidents as revenge killings by the sitting Tutsi led regime. A conversation aimed at accommodation as opposed to suppression of dissent is the best bet for reconciliation and political stability. The said suppression might not be happening but again government has to deal with perceptions for indeed suppression can be actual, potential or perceived. 

Creative Engagement 

The post genocide Rwandan justice and reconciliation process should be directed towards creating a society where reconciliation and conflict transformation can thrive. Underlying this assertion is the conception of conflict as ‘normal’ and political disagreement as a sign of democracy but one that requires institutional interventions if it is to harness its democratic potential rather than devolve into violence. The major challenge is how to develop creative ways for engagement that will allow for nonconformity, dissent, open debate, and orderly political shift when necessary. That is what should concern Rwanda, Rwandans and friends of Rwanda. Unfortunately as Mamdani argues, creation of such framework in Rwanda has been problematic making it difficult to ascertain the level of reconciliation that has so far taken place. The Rwandan government has in numerous occasions been accused of not being open to dissent and has been severally accused of persecuting those who oppose government. This is not a good gesture for long term peace consolidation, justice and reconciliation in a country whose past is so painful. 
Rwanda Needs to Learn how to Handle Dissent for Lasting Peace Rwanda Needs to Learn how to Handle Dissent for Lasting Peace Reviewed by Ibrahim Magara on March 21, 2016 Rating: 5

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