'People mostly want peace and stability'
Tito Rutaremara, 58, is president of Rwanda's Legal and Constitutional Commission. A veteran member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front who grew up in Uganda, he was educated in France and returned to Rwanda in the mid-1990s. Mr. Rutaremara spoke to correspondent Carter Dougherty recently in Kigali.
Question: What do Rwandans want most these days from a political system?
Answer: After the genocide, everyone suffered. Even the people who committed the genocide suffered. It was the same in Germany [after World War II]. Even the Germans suffered bombardment and lack of food.
Here, people mostly want peace and stability. It's disturbances they don't want.
Q: Is that a good thing?
A: This kind of individualism can be dangerous. We need civil society also, where people come together and talk and discuss the important issues we face.
Q: Do you think Rwanda's move toward democracy will smooth relations with the international community?
A: Why should we show a serious commitment to people who showed no serious commitment to us? Here, there was genocide under the 1948 [U.N. Resolution 260: Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide], and there was nothing [done]. We are doing this for Rwanda.
Q: The new constitution lays out clear rules for political parties. Why is this such a sensitive issue in Rwanda?
A: My mother would tell you that democracy and parties means killing and expelling Tutsis, because that's what happened for years after independence.
People told us [during constitutional commission hearings this year] that if we could build democracy without political parties, that would be excellent.
When we talked more, they said "OK, you can have them, but they should remain in Kigali." Finally, people started saying, "Yes, we need them, but there must be rules."
Q: Does this distaste for partisan politics cut across ethnic lines?
A: Even former members of the [Hutu] genocidal parties did not want new political parties. They remember the period of 1992 and 1993 when people came to their houses and they were forced to join parties.
The Washington Post, November 14, 2002