The European capital Brussels stays true to Rwanda…

“Kagame! Murderer! Kagame! Murderer!” Hundreds of Rwandans and Congolese demonstrated in Brussels the last few of days. They are angry that President Paul Kagame is invited to the European capital. But the demonstration was in vain – Brussels and Kigali remain close friends.

“The president of Rwanda is a criminal”, says Paul Rusesabagina (read article of (Post 12/06/10)). The famous manager of Hôtel des Milles Collines is one of the demonstrators who are gathered on Albertina square in Brussels.

“It is a disgrace that the European Union welcomes Kagame. The UN charge him with war crimes in Eastern Congo. We want to wake up the international community.”

Brussels is proud of the progress Rwanda has made since the 1994 genocide. During the European Development Days in a heavily secured congress centre, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luise Mushikiwabo, spoke of the equality of men and women in her country.

Buying influence
“In Brussels the idea exists that we wield influence if we support Rwanda”, says Dutch MP of the European Parliament, Hans van Baalen. (1) “Even now, after the recent accusations stated in a UN report.”

Mr Van Baalen thinks this conviction will be proven false. The Dutch government feels the same about it. The Netherlands won’t send direct financial aid to Rwanda in 2011. “The government doesn’t want to donate money to a country in which human rights are being violated and where there is a lack of democracy.” Another cause of concern is the trial against Rwandan opposition leader Victoire Ingabire(2).

But according to British member of the European parliament, Michal Cashman the Netherlands are wrong. “Where is the evidence? We’ll have to be careful with accusing Rwanda”, he says.

Netherlands stands alone
“The word ‘genocide’ is being used far to easily in Eastern Congo. Rwanda has known a genocide and wants to prevent that it will happen ever again.” Therefore Brussels should keep on supporting Rwanda, is the opinion of most politicians in the European capital.

Mr Van Ballen admits that the Netherlands stands alone in its opinion: “The Netherlands has taken a clear stance. But it is hard to find support in Brussels. I’m going to talk about the issue with the commission of Foreign Affairs and European parliament.”

Meanwhile the demonstrators in the centre of Brussels leave the square disappointed. They have been sent away by the police. They take their boards and banners back home. President Kagame didn’t hold his announced speech during the European congress. He left early to Rwanda for more pressing issues. His minister of Foreign Affairs replaces him and thanks Europe for all the support.

To Radio Netherlands Ms Mushikwabo says: “We respect the decision of the Netherlands to stop direct aid for Rwanda. But our relationship with the European Union remains very friendly.”

This article was written by Sophie van Leeuwen. Source:

(1) Hans Van Ballen:

Van Baalen has been a member of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) since 1986. From 1993-98′ he was international secretary, then MP til’ 2003. In the Dutch House of Representatives, Van Baalen was a member of the Foreign Affairs commission, European Affairs commission and the Defense commission. Since the elections of 2009, he is a member of European Parliament and faction leader of the Dutch VVD Delegation.

Quotation (about South African’s media laws): “In South Africa, the media should remain free from dominance of outside forces, true freedom means that you have access to all the information”

The VVD: The VVD is a party founded on liberal philosophy, traditionally being the most ardent supporter of ‘free markets‘ of all Dutch political parties, promoting political and fiscal conservatism, classical liberalismand, in theory, committed to the idea of the welfare state if only by way of the aforesaid now being an irreversible and foregone conclusion.

Post 1971, the party became more populist, although conservative liberalism elements remain at the core and still course through the central party upper-circle. From this period on the VVD became more sceptical towards the current welfare state, advocating reform of the welfare state and lower taxes in order to increase economic growth. As such it supported neoconservatism reforms to the welfare state. Often, foreign political commentators conceive the VVD as a freemarketeer party, in contrast to Democrats66, which is perceived to be a liberal party.

The most important principle for the VVD has always been market freedom.

The principles of the People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) are outlined in the Liberal Manifesto (“Liberaal Manifest”) and the election programs. The Liberal Manifesto is a general outlook on the direction of the party would like to mirror itself and is an expansion of the party’s foundational principles.

(2) Victore Ingabire: Since 1997, Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire has been involved in the struggle of the Rwandan political opposition in exile. She was a party candidate for Rwanda’s August 2010 elections, but was ultimately barred from running.

From 2003 to 2006, she occupied the post of President of the Union of Rwandan Democratic Forces UFDR (French: Union des Forces Démocratiques Rwandaises), the main coalition of political opposition parties and personalities in exile, of which RDR is an active member. In November 2004, in Amsterdam she organized a conference known as the “Forum on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region” which was followed by the Amsterdam Initiative with the aim to create the new platform for cooperation. In October 2005, Victoire initiated contacts with other opposition organizations and organized an all-inclusive meeting for all Rwandan civil society associations and political parties. A consensus of common front against Kagame’s regime was finally reached. Starting from April 2006, she participated in the creation of the United Democratic Forces (FDU) and was elected President of the political platform. FDU has a goal to install the rule of law in Rwanda, underpinned by the respect of democratic values enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and other international instruments relating to democracy and good governance. Victoire actively participated in Highly Inclusive Inter-Rwandan Dialogue (HIIRD) project in Barcelona, Spain in 2004, 2006 and in April – May 2009 under the auspice of  Mr. Juan Carrero Saralegui.the Peace Nobel Prize candidate and of Mr. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel the Peace Nobel Prize and Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, the Vice-president of the Alliance of Civilization.

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