Commonwealth Rwanda Election Report : Extract on Opposition Parties Refused to Contest | Rwanda

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Commonwealth Rwanda Election Report : Extract on Opposition Parties Refused to Contest

REPORT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OBSERVER GROUP ON RWANDA 2010 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONSEXTRACT ON OPPOSITION PARTIES THAT WERE REFUSED BY THE GOVERNMENT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ELECTIONS

Other Political Parties ( from page 14-17)

Ahead of the elections, a number of opposition parties had stated their intention to field their candidates in the elections, but, in the end, faced either legal or administrative issues, which resulted in their non-participation. The situation of each of these parties differs considerably and is briefly outlined below :

1. Democratic Green Party

The Democratic Green Party reported to observers that they had undertaken concerted efforts with a view to registering itself as a party, with the intention of fielding its leader Mr Frank Habineza as a presidential candidate.

It was unable to do so however because it did not have the necessary party documents signed, which is a pre-requisite for registration.

The party further told observers that it had attempted to hold a party congress where the documents would be signed, but the meeting was disrupted by rowdy individuals, who, the party claims, were RPF supporters because they were chanting RPF slogans.

The Green Party was unsuccessful in holding a subsequent meeting because it was denied permission by local authorities on the basis that it required a police clearance to hold the meeting, which the police would not provide. After writing to the Minister of Local Government, requesting him to intervene, the party met once with Ministry officials, who showed interest in resolving the problems.

The next three dates for a follow-up meeting were not honoured by Ministry officials, and no subsequent meeting between the Democratic Green Party and the Ministry took place.

The party then wrote to the Minister of Local Government and the Minister of Justice requesting that the necessary documents be signed at the State Notary‟s Office. They later also wrote to the local authorities requesting permission for a congress to be held in June 2010. The party said no response to the letters was received.

In a media interview, President Kagame said that the Democratic Green Party‟s failure to obtain the documents required for registration was because they kept fighting among themselves. It was not true that the Government had refused to register the Party. The Ministry of Local Government had tried to help them.

The Minister of Local Government informed the observers that the Democratic Green party‟s congress was characterized by misunderstandings among the founding party members that ended in chaos and fighting each other.

Officials from the Ministry had held a meeting with Mr Habineza to chart out possible solutions ; they had decided to hold a second meeting to come up with strategies leading to convening a peaceful and secure congress. However, Mr Habineza did not come back to the Ministry as agreed, and thereafter he had announced that he would take a few members to the State Notary to have the necessary documents signed at the State Notary office. The Ministry said this approach did not meet the requirements of the law governing political parties.

Mr Frank Habineza told observers that he chose not to contest the elections as an independent, saying that his allegiances lay with the party.

2. FDU-Inkingi

3 The observers did not meet with representatives from FDU-Inkingi The Chairperson of the United Democratic Forces FDU-Inkingi Ms Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza had returned to Rwanda in January 2010, after 16 years exile, reportedly to register her political party and contest the presidential elections.

She was arrested on 21 April on charges of association with a terrorist group, propagating genocide ideology, revisionism and divisionism. She was granted bail and conditionally released, with orders not to leave Kigali and to report to the authorities twice a month.

The Rwandan government has refuted claims in the international media that Ms Ingabire Umuhoza‟s arrest was politically motivated, saying that the state was ready to produce evidence in court linking Ms Ingabire Umuhoza to a terrorist group, plans to cause state insecurity among other charges.

The Rwandan government also cited a 2009 UN Experts Group report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (S/2009/603), which found that FDU-Inkingi diaspora members in Belgium had been in telephone contact with leaders of the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), a Rwandan Hutu power rebel group operating in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo).

The report also said Ms Ingabire Umuhoza had attended inter-Rwandan dialogue meetings in Spain with pro-FDLR individuals participants. In April 2010, two senior commanders of the FDLR, accused of planning activities aimed at causing state insecurity, admitted in court of having worked with Ms Ingabire Umuhoza to form rebel groups to launch offensives in the country.

3. PS-Imberakuri

4 The observers did not meet with representatives from PS-Imberakuri The Social Party Imberakuri (PS-Imberakuri) was registered as a political party in July 2009. Since then, the party experienced serious internal divisions, and its leader, Bernard Ntaganda was ousted as party leader by Christine Mukabunani. Mrs Mukabunani announced on 1 July 2010 that PS-Imberakuri would not field a candidate in the presidential elections. Mr Ntaganda and his supporters stated, in a press release, that the takeover was orchestrated by party members believed to have been manipulated by the RPF.

On 24 April, Mr Ntaganda was arrested in his home in Kigali, before he could leave to join protests against the government‟s and National Electoral Commission‟s alleged exclusion of all viable opposition from the presidential elections. He was later charged with propagating genocide ideology, promoting ethnic divisionism, attempted murder, terrorism and organising illegal gatherings. He was denied bail.

The three above-mentioned political parties issued a press release on 19 February 2010 that they had formed a "Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties" with the aim of defining a common position and carrying out advocacy work, including in the following areas : registration of political parties, diplomacy, information and communication, and justice.

The Democratic Green Party and the FDU-Inkingi publicised information about their situation to international media and interlocutors throughout the lead-up to the elections.

Mr Frank Habineza stated to observers that he and other members of his party had faced threats, warning them to stop their political activities. There were also some arrests of supporters of the parties not contesting the elections, on various charges, such as planning illegal demonstrations, in the lead-up to the elections.

Although each of the situations of the political parties listed above differs greatly, the overall impact is a concern. The election campaign notably lacked critical opposition voices( note : FDU and PSI were not met)

Full report can be downloaded from the Commonwealth website, link below :

http://www.thecommonwealth.org/document/229333/2010_rwanda_elections__final_report.htm