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Kagame Accuses West Of Double Standards On Democracy

RWANDAN President Paul Kagame on Monday criticised Western countries for their ‘double standards’ on democracy, ahead of next month’s general elections in Rwanda. Kagame, who has led Rwanda since 2000, was addressing concerns from critics accusing him of holding onto power for too long.

‘Democracy is about freedom of choice. If that is the case unless the definition has changed over time, I have never known of any place where democracy has succeeded when principles and ideals have been dictated from the outside,’ Kagame stated during an interview on national television.

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‘They say you have been there too long, but that is none of their business … Rwandans are the ones to make those choices. They have the freedom to do it. But you find that in most cases, the complaints are from outside. These are double standards; it’s even arrogance,’ he added.

Kagame’s comments came shortly after the National Electoral Commission approved his candidacy and that of two other contenders for the presidential election scheduled for next month. Kagame will represent the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), while his challengers include Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana.

Highlighting the importance of contextual political differences, Kagame questioned whether Rwanda’s democratic practices are fundamentally different from global definitions of democracy. ‘Some of these countries have strict rules, and they don’t want anybody to interfere in their politics, but they find it easy to get involved in other people’s politics. What sense does it make?’ he asked.

‘If interfering in other people’s affairs is wrong, what gives you the right to go and get involved in other people’s affairs … Some of them are leaders of their own countries in spite of their very low ratings. But that is democracy I’m told,’ Kagame added.

Rwandans are set to vote for their president and parliamentary representatives on July 15, marking a significant event in the country’s political calendar.

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