Olivier Nyirubugara, Zevenhuizen – 16 January 2011. While Rwandans opposed to president Paul Kagame were celebrating the first anniversary of the return of Victoire Ingabire, now in jail in Kigali, one topic dominated private talks: the spectacular flight of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after weeks of street protests.
Most of the 300 hundred people who gathered in Zevenhuizen, not far from the Hague, were wondering if Tunisia had not opened a new era in the way Africans will have to change their leaders where democracy is nonexistent.
Rwanda is one interesting case: any opposition is harshly repressed, whether it comes from the Tutsi or the Hutu side. Whoever has dared to challenge former rebel leader and current president Kagame, has paid either with a neck cut, heavy prison sentences, a bullet in the head of the stomach, or, for the lucky ones, exile.
One then understands why the Tunisian case, where the street forced the president out, is fascinating for Rwanda, where power has always changed in violence since independence and even before. Is the street perhaps another option to explore? The future will tell.
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