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Published on 18 August, 2010

What does Kagame’s landslide victory mean for Rwanda?

Rwanda (MNN) — Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide that
took the lives of an estimated 800,000 people in 100 days, the country
celebrates the re-election of President Paul Kagame for a second seven-year term.

With an astounding 93 percent of the vote, however, some
have lumped the country with other "democracies," where the vote has
been manipulated and citizens experience few freedoms.

Throughout his past term, Kagame has sought to bring peace
between the country's Hutu and Tutsi tribes, who have long been at odds.

Yet, his position is similar to Zimbabwe's current leader,
Robert Mguabe, who has been in power since 1980 and helped to revolutionize his
country. But Mugabe is slow to relinquish his position: he lost the 2008
presidential election but remains co-leader through a power-sharing agreement
with Morgan Tsvangirai.

With this new seven-year term, will Kagame follow in the
same footsteps, hoping to set himself up as dictator with an authoritarian
government?

Evangelist Sammy Tippit recently discussed the matter with
Christian leaders in Rwanda, and they all have a positive outlook on the recent
elections and victory.

Tippit believes the Kagame landside win is because of the strides
he has been taking to unite and stabilize the country: "Probably the
reason the election was so lopsided is because it has been peaceful in the
country since the genocide, and the people were traumatized… There's been
this need for some kind of stability, and I think the president has offered
that stability."

Additionally, with the majority of voters being Hutu and Kagame
a Tutsi, such a united vote appears to be a large step toward healing for the
country.

As for the vote signifying an authoritarian government, Tippit
said Rwanda might well need a rigid structure right now until they mature more.

"I think that it's probably a natural part of the
process that has to take place. The nation will come to the place where they have to outgrow this style. And that will be a critical moment… It has taken
quite some time to get through this whole genocide that has taken place. The
stability that has come economically, socially, and between the two tribal factions
has been something that probably had to come from some kind of
authoritarian-style rule," Tippit said.

When the nation has matured and reached the "critical
moment," then, Tippit said, it will be the time for more freedoms.

As with the economy and society in Rwanda, ministry has also
seen a period of great openness and stability. If the country continues in its
current direction, the circumstances will only improve.

Meanwhile, healing must continue to take place between the two
tribes, as it appears Kagame has been stressing. Otherwise, Rwanda will again
fall into the cycle of violence and division that has long plagued its history.
Tippit said, "If there's not a healing of a generation, this whole thing
will rise up again and one group will feel suppressed," and the cycle will
continue.

Join Tippit in prayer for Rwanda and for continued progress toward
healing, unity, peace, maturity and freedom. Pray that Rwandan
Christians will step up and be a light, sharing the hope Christ offers no
matter how the government or nation proceeds.

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About Rwanda

  • Primary Language: Kinyarwanda
  • Primary Religion: Christianity
  • Evangelical: 26.9%
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