Coalition of Rwandan opposition parties calls for democracy and rule of law in Rwanda
CALL FOR democracy and rule of law in Rwanda.
The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda (PCC)
C/O. B.P. 6334 Kigali , Rwanda.
Tel : +250 788563039,+250 728636000, +250 788307145
Kigali, 21st June 2010
Open Letter to:
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission
H.E. Jean PING,
Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
Subject : RWANDA : CALL FOR democracy and rule of law in Rwanda.
The Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda which brings together, the United Democratic Forces (FDU–Inkingi), the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, the Parti Social IMBERAKURI strongly believes that the Africa Union can help Rwanda to set the democracy process on track and diffuse tensions as the presidential elections loom as a military crisis deepens.
The cycle of political violence in Rwanda has been due to a lack of a system for a peaceful competition for and transfers of power between the political elites. The most tragic part of this political violence has been the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis. We must all take a commitment to make sure that it does not happen again.
The law on Genocide ideology of 2008 should be more clarified and fine-tuned so that it is not used by anyone to freeze political thoughts and descent voices on pretext that they have a genocide ideology. This would minimize the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of expression. The provisions of the current law of 2002 related to divisionism, which is contrary to article 9 of the international convention on civil and political rights and of 1966 to which Rwanda is party, must be reviewed.
To have sustainable peace in Rwanda, there is a strong need of creating political space that enables a peaceful process of transfer and competition for power.
During its political development Rwanda has had political refugees. Indeed this explains why when the RPF invaded Rwanda in 1990, it won the heart and minds of many people who thought that refugees had the right to come back home. The RPF leadership played on this sentiment and promised to end the problem of refugees and to bring a democratic system of government to underpin durable peace and development.
It is quite sad that the present government has failed on each of these promises. We have more political leaders in exile today than ever before : three former Prime Ministers, former Speaker of Parliament, three former Ministers of Foreign Affairs, one Minister of Defence, one Minister of Justice, one Minister of Home Affairs assassinated in Nairobi, Members of Parliament (one was assassinated in Nairobi), ambassadors, military officers including two Generals (one of them Lt.Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa who survived an assassination attempt on 19th June 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa), businessmen, journalists, human rights activists etc…
Many ordinary people are fleeing their country at a time that prominent members of the political elite are fleeing for their lives.
We fear therefore that the present management of the political system has the potential to lead to another cycle of violence.
In this respect, the members of the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda, have decided to take part in a peaceful competition for power and hence consolidate democracy in Rwanda. We are determined to break the cycle of fear and mistrust.
We are very pleased that the African Union has clearly acknowledged that democracy, good governance and human rights are prerequisites to peace and development. The african charter on democracy, elections and good governance and the establishment of the African Peer Review mechanism are an eloquent testimony to this conviction.
Indeed the African Charter on democracy, elections and good governance states in article 2 that one of the objectives of member states is to :
• Nurture, support and consolidate good governance by promoting democratic culture and practice, building and strengthening governance institutions and inculcating political pluralism and tolerance ;
• Strengthen political pluralism and recognising the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties, including opposition political parties, which should be given a status under national law.
NEPAD declaration on Democracy, Political, Economic and Corporate Governance also emphasizes a commitment by member states to ensure “individual and collective freedoms, including the right to form and join political parties and trade unions, in conformity with the constitution.
However all independent reports do indicate that the current Rwandan regime has failed to respect the commitment of the AU member states to democracy and good governance :
The Country Review Report of the Republic of Rwanda 2006 by African Peer Review mechanism pointed out the following in its report :
On the issue of Political competition it made the following observations :
In point 102, it points out that “conditions for a healthy competition for power including adequate guarantees of equity of access to the political space for all contending political organisations at all administrative levels and a political environment sufficiently liberal to afford equal chance for all individuals appropriately qualified, to compete for political office”, were lacking.
The report of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative 2009, also pointed out that : Rwanda gives a strong impression of a one party state” adding that the regime “uses the constitution opportunistically as a façade, which hides the exclusionary and repressive nature of the regime ; relies on power structures that sometimes run parallel to, and sometimes cross-cuts, the formal government ; and in which the army plays a central role. The report quotes some schools of thought that describe Rwanda as “an army with a state”,
The opposition in Rwanda has been subjected to verbal and physical intimidation and abuse. The legal framework has been used against us to stop United Democratic Forces (FDU–Inkingi), the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda from registering our political parties and exercising our political rights. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s founding convention on 30th October 2009 was sabotaged violently, by people suspected to be connected to security organs and others to be working for the Government.
The only opposition party that had managed to get registered last year, PS Imberakuri of Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA, has now been divided into several factions, one illegal faction was recently recognised by the Government after its head was appointed Vice President of the Government’ Political Parties Forum. This division is believed to be done by the Ruling Party-RPF in order to weaken the real opposition and deny it a chance to participate in the upcoming August 2010 presidential elections.
An independent press has almost completely disappeared. The papers that are critical of government have been forced to close down (UMUSESO and UMUVUGIZI Newspapers) and their owners forced to flee the country, because their lives were in danger. Others exercise self-censorship in order to survive. Civil society organisations are forced to take the official Government line in order to operate.
We are very convinced that only a democratic system of government and rule of law can bring durable peace and development to Rwanda and to the Great Lakes Region at large.
This is why we are appealing to you to do everything in your power to bring the Rwandan Government to respect the African Union and the United Nations conventions it has signed including the UN convention on political and civil rights and the African Charter on democracy, elections and good governance.
We are convinced that the only solution in the growing social and political tension in Rwanda depend more on the resolution of the internal political problems, it is why we request you to ask the Rwandan government to postpone elections until the political situation is conducive enough to holding free, transparent elections and all political parties are given the right to exercise their civil and political rights fully.
In particular, we request you to impress upon the President of Rwanda to allow political parties that are critical of the regime ( the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and FDU-Inkingi) to register and exercise their full political rights and let the legally recognised leader of PS Imberakuri, Maitre Bernard NTAGANDA, manage his party without Government interference.
Sincerely yours ,
Mrs. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza
Chairperson, United Democratic Forces
Mr. Frank Habineza
Chairman, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
Me. Bernard Ntaganda
Chairman, Parti Social IMBERAKURI
• Excellencies Heads of State,
• Excellencies Heads of Government