Rwanda: two steps forward, three steps back?

Published on by KANYARWANDA

Rwanda: two steps forward, three steps back?

By Alec van Gelder & Timothy Cox

Friday, June 25, 2010

We are amongst the first to laud Paul Kagame’s economic reforms that have propelled Rwanda’s Doing Business rankings straight to the top of the “best reformers” list.  Slashing the cost of registering new businesses and removing other bureaucratic and administrative barriers to raising capital, making investments and trading domestically and internationally are the reforms other African governments must emulate if they are to escape the poverty and aid trap. 

Yet these business-friendly reforms have come at a steep price for political freedom and civil liberties in Rwanda.  Kagame looks certain to win yet another seven-year term in August and there is every indication that he is becoming more authoritarian by the day, using state powers to make life a living hell for political opposition and trampling over the freedom of speech that forms the backbone of civil and open society.  News of the assassination of Jean Leonard Rugambage, Editor of a Rwandan newspaper that was critical of Kagame before authorities mysteriously forced it to shut its operations, does little to suppress many fears that Rwanda is spiralling towards a political dictatorship.

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