Fellow Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda, on behalf of myself and my party, the Rwanda People’s Party (RPP), we would like to wish you all a very happy, health, prosperous and a blessed 2016.
We would like to express our sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones during the year.
We would also like to extend our sympathy to all those and who are suffering because of war, drought and famine. The RPPs thoughts are also with all those who are ill and in hospital at this time. At this time of the year we must look forward with hope to the year ahead.
The last year was a year filled with both hope and also sadness.
Perhaps the most important and tragic event of the year was the flow of refugees into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa. Some 800,000 people have fled by boat via the Aegean Sea to Greece and another 150,000 have travelled from North Africa by sea via the Mediterranean Sea. 51% of the refugees are from Syria escaping a brutal civil war. Many more are fleeing conflicts, poverty and dictatorship in their own country.
Tragically, thousands have died trying to reach safety in Europe. Many European countries responded to the refugees’ crisis too late, while others have built walls and used barbed wire fences to keep refugees out, including the sick and children.
It is regrettable that many nations have used the refugee crisis to demonize the Muslim community and religion. Many have claimed that they are a danger to the western world. Today, being a Muslim in some Western countries is to be a second class citizen.
Fellow Rwandan and Friends of Rwanda,
Once again terrorism has claimed many innocent lives. There have been despicable terrorist attacks notably in Algeria, Somalia, Mali, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, France, Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United States.
The Paris attacks shocked the world and have made the western world feel more vulnerable than ever. The bombing of the Russian airliner in revenge for Russia’s hard-line policy on terrorists was particularly savage.
The RPP believes that more international action is needed to defeat terrorism. Their needs to be more done to tackle the root causes of terrorism, this will involve ending the exploitation, poverty, corruption and intolerance that motivates so many young people become terrorists. Only by removing and ending the causes of terrorism can it finally be defeated.
Since March 2011, the Syrian Civil War has led an estimated 10 million Syrians to flee their homes and over 330,000 Syrians have been killed. This war has been largely caused by foreign terrorists, often sponsored by foreign nations.
The conflict in Syria involves the Syrian army, some 56 western nations battling some 150 different terrorist groups. Russian, Iranian, Palestinian Liberation Army and Hezbollah militias have also intervened in the conflict to help the Syrian government.
The RPP would like to pay tribute to the two Russian pilots who died after their plane and helicopter were shot down by Turkey and its allies in Syria. The RPP believes that the deaths of the pilot of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber, Oleg Peshkov, and the Si-8 Helicopter pilot, Alexander Pozynich, were not in vain.
The RPP’s prayers and sympathy are with the families and relatives of the two brave Russian service men who died while trying to free the Syrian nation and people from the horrors perpetrated by foreign sponsored terrorists. Because, of President Putin’s policies, the Syrian people for the first time in five years have hope that their country will soon be free and peaceful.
This feeling of hope is evident in the almost one million Syrian who have returned to their ruined villages, homes, town and cities since the Russian air campaign against the terrorists began on the 30th September 2015.
The RPP once again calls for all free nations and responsible governments to come together to fight the terrorist menace. We are particularly glad to see the improving relationship between Russian and the West on this issue.
The RPP is also encouraged by the resumption of the Syrian peace talks and the pledge of the foreign powers to allow the destiny of Syria to be determined by its people.
At this time of the year, we must also remember the many people that have perished in the world’s other brutal world’s civil wars. It is believed that about 230,000 Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis and Yemenis have been killed since 2011.
The RPP extends its sympathy to the forgotten people of Yemen. A brutal civil war has destroyed that country. Foreign mercenaries have intervened and made the situation much worse. The sufferings of the Yemeni people are truly heartrending. Several millions of them are refugees in their own country and some ten million are at risk of famine.
Civil Wars are also continuing in Libya and Nigeria and other parts of northern and western Africa. We encourage all parties in these conflicts to engage in peace negotiations for the good of their people and their nation.
The year 2015 has also seen many deaths as a result of air accidents and terrorism. 560 people died in 16 plane accidents. The worst being the terrorist attack that resulted in a Russian Airbus A-321-200 plane, crashing killing 224 people in the Sinai Desert of Egypt.
2015 has also been a terrible one for journalists. Over 110 journalists lost their lives in the year. 67 of them died while reporting, including 11 in Iraq, 10 in Syria and 8 in France.
Fellow Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda,
We should also remember all those who work for peace around the world, especially those peacekeepers serving with the UN and other bodies.
The RPP wishes to express our shock at the brutal murders of two Rwandan female police peacekeepers, serving under MINUSTAH in Haiti. AIP Lillian Mukansonera and AIP Aimee Nyiramudakemwa gave their lives for the people of Haiti.
Our prayers and sympathy are with the families and relatives of the victims, the Rwanda peace contingent in Haiti and the people of Rwanda, at this time.
Fellow Rwandans and Friends of Rwanda,
2015 Burundi descended into violence and bloodshed once again after the President sought illegally to stay in power. We appeal to the Burundian government to stop using violence to repress its own citizens and to respect their human rights.
The African Union and various East African states have failed to stop the violence and appear incapable of taking any decisive action, because they are too dependent on western aid and finance. They need the approval of the west to act even in a terrible crisis that needs urgent intervention and this is a shameful indictment of the AU.
The Burundi government rejected the deployment of a 5000 strong African Union Peacekeeping force, The African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi (MAPROBU), to protect civilians in the country.
However, the RPP has been encouraged by the recent Burundian peace talks, that were held under the auspices of the President of Uganda Mr. Yoweri Museveni on the 28th of December. The government of Burundi appears to have refused to participate in talks, scheduled for the 6th January 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania aimed at ending the deadly violence in the country.
We hope that the Burundian government will attend these peace talks. These talks if successful may bring sanity to the country and could also lead to the return of over 200,000 Burundian refugees currently scattered in Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and the DRC. We lend our prayers to the people of Burundi at this critical moment in their history.
Despite the Burundian tragedy, the world has witnessed many positive developments on the diplomatic front and several brutal conflicts have been ended by peaceful negotiations. The South Sudan Civil War has been ended after mediation by the African Union.
At present a ceasefire is holding in the Ukraine and the RPP hopes that both sides in the conflict can reach a just peace that respects all sides’ national interests. There have also been some diplomatic breakthroughs that have given the world hope of a better 2016.
These include the Cuban-American agreement and the normalisation of relations between the two countries. Then there was the historic Iran Nuclear Arms agreement, this agreement will hopefully resolve the decades long tension between Iran and the United States.
Another positive development has been the recent agreement between Japan and South Korea on the issue of ‘Comfort Women’. This will help to resolve decades of tensions over the sexual abuse of Korean women by the Japanese army during W.W. II.
The RPP has also been encouraged by progress made in the liberation of Iraq. The Iraqi government is confident that terrorism will be defeated by the end of 2016, according to the Prime Minister H.E. Dr. Haider Al-Abadi.
Despite the prevailing current disastrous situation in Burundi, democracy has made real progress in Africa over the last year as demonstrated by events in Burkino Faso. In September 2015, elements in the army seized the president and prime minister, and seized control of the government.
However, on 22 September 2015, the coup leader, Gilbert Diendéré, apologized and promised to restore the civilian government. This came after the massive “African Spring” demonstrations around the nation.
Burkino Faso and other examples demonstrate that increasingly democracy is demanded by all Africans. They no longer want to be ruled by military leaders or authoritarian rulers. Today, Burkina Faso has a legitimate president and new elections are planned.
There has also been shift of power in favour of the opposition in Nigeria, while in Tanzania, the CCM retained power. The people of CAR are currently having an election that may bring peace to that country. Uganda is also in the midst of an important election.
The Party also views as a positive development the recent Presidential election in Tanzania. The visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to Kenya, Uganda and CAR shows the improving state of the East Africa region.
The RPP along with the entire AU welcomes the ICC decision that all its political motivated charges against the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenya have been dropped. The RPP looks forward to the Ruto case being also dropped by the Court.
Fellow Rwandan and Friends of Rwanda,
In Africa there has been much progress on the economic, social and political front. However, much more needs to be done. The Continent if it is to be peaceful and prosperous needs economies that are not dependent upon foreign influence and foreign aid.
This is also necessary if the Continent is to be truly democratic. There can be no democracy in Africa if nations are dependent on foreign aid and this gives western leaders an undue influence on African politics.
Many western governments have condemned recent developments in African democracy, especially in relation to the lifting of term limits and have launched a campaign of misinformation on the issue.
They have sought to define democracy as something related to term limits and not the people’s choice. The people still have the right to elect or vote out any candidate that is incompetent or corrupt. Term limits do not make African countries less democratic, just as they do not make many European countries undemocratic.
Our party has been particularly heartened by the recent referendum in Rwanda. The RPP believes that this is a sign of the growing democratisation of Rwandan society.
We believe that the issue of term limitations is not as important as the economic and social emancipation of the country. Rwanda is not owned by the international community, but is rather a member of the international community and it should be treated the same as any other member of that community.
Rwanda is a “Sovereign State” and its citizens are legally entitled to make their informed choices like any other members of the international community. Our party is especially pleased with the continued social-economic progress in our country.
The RPP notes with sadness that a large number of Rwandan refugees are still in exile and suffering persecution, disease and hunger especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our prayers and sympathy are with them at all times. Nevertheless, we have been encouraged by the slow but steady return of Rwandan refugees back home.
The return of many FDLR combatants and some of their Senior commanders, that include; Col Augustin NSENGIMANA, Lt Col. Desire HABAMUNGU, Lt Col Gerard Ntibibaza, Capt. Damien KWIZERA etc., to Rwanda is a welcome development. We have also learnt that over 730 FLDR combatants, many in poor health have surrendered to the MONUSCO in the DRC.
The RPP once again, encourages every single Rwandan refugee and FDLR member to return to Rwanda. There is no doubt to believe that our homeland is a peaceful nation and no refugee or FDLR member will be imprisoned or suffer persecution, when they return home.
The RPP wishes to assure refugees and FDLR members, that Rwanda’s doors are open and will remain open to any Rwandan who wants to return to her or his mother country.
The RPP is concerned that Ladislas Ntanganzwa has not yet been deported back to Rwanda to stand trial for crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity following his arrest on 9th Dec in the DRC. We hope that the DRC will fulfil its duty under international law and hand over Mr Ntaganzwa to the Rwandan authorities or to the UN as a matter of urgency.
Fellow Rwandan and Friends of Rwanda,
The RPP hopes that the coming year will be a peaceful and prosperous time. Let us all strive together to make end war, violence and brutality, a thing of the past.
The people of the world need to realise that they can change the world and end the sufferings of humanity.
Once again, on my own behalf and that of my party, the Rwanda People’s Party (RPP), we would like to wish everyone a very happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed 2016.
May Almighty God bless you all and our beloved Rwanda.
John V Karuranga, President
Rwanda People’s Party (RPP)