One Year Struggle of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
On its first anniversary, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is still struggling to get registered.
Here follows a chronology of events of its struggle which culminated in the assassination of its Deputy Chair Andre Rwaka Rwisereka.
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was publicly launched on 14th August 2009 at Hotel Laico (Ex-Novotel) Kigali, in presence of Rwandans, local and international media. Several diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda were also present. The first anniversary is due in just five days ahead. The Government of Rwanda made it very difficult for the party to get registered. It was therefore blocked from submitting a presidential candidate in today’s elections.
The chronology of events to be given below are aimed at clearing off any mis-information that has been circulating in diplomatic circles and in the media suggesting that the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda failed to fulfill all the legal requirements in order to get registered. We actually did more than required as indicated below :
– 14th August 2009, political party launched in Kigali
– 14th September 2009, the party wrote a letter to the Minister of Local Government informing him of its plans to hold the first founding congress on 20th September at St.Paul Conference Center in Kigali. This was in accordance with the Organic Law N° 19/2007 of 04/05/2007 Modifying and Completing Organic Law N° 16/2003 of 27/06/2003 Governing Political Organisations and Politicians in Rwanda, which is clearly stipulated in Article 5. The new LAW does not require a party to request for permission to hold meetings, so that is why we informed him about our plans to have this congress, five working days in advance.
– 17th September 2009, the Minister of Local Government responded to our letter and advised us to avoid calling the meeting in the names of the ‘Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’, since the party was not yet recognized. He also advised us to follow provisions of the Law N° 33/91 of August 1991 regarding meetings held in public. That Law requires people planning to hold public meetings to request permission from District authorities. We never urged with the ministry, we followed their advice and started requesting for permission from district authorities, despite the fact that after the ARUSHA Peace accords in 1993-94, most of the laws of the former Government were made irrelevant and replaced by the RPF Declaration and the Constitution. The new Government of National Unity made new laws through the Transitional National Assembly from July 1994 after the genocide. It was strange to refer us to the 1991 laws.
– 18th September 2009, we wrote a letter to NYARUGENGE District (city district) Kigali City, requesting for permission to hold the first founding congress of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda on 27th September at St. Paul Gardens in Kigali. We also requested the presence of the Public Notary for Nyarugenge District, to come and witness the official signing of Legal documents of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda. Since the Law requires such documents to be certified/notified.
– 25th September 2009, the Mayor of Nyarugenge District, responded, giving us permission to hold the above mentioned congress, but regretted the absence of the public Notary. It was a Friday and the meeting was supposed to be held on a Sunday. In the few hours remaining before the weekend we tried to get another public notary from other three districts, but it was not possible, since it required an administrative process of sending an official letter requesting the Notary from the Mayor and it was already a weekend. So the meeting was not held on 27th September, though the permission was given.
– 29th September 2009, we wrote to the Mayor of Nyarugenge District informing him about the postponement of our meeting that was supposed to be held on 27th September, that it had been shifted to 2nd October at CANA Conference Center. We informed the Mayor that we had managed to get another public notary.
– 2nd October 2009, as the first founding congress was in progress, having brought about 900 delegates from across the country, even though the law requires the party to have a minimum of 200 delegates, at least 5 from each of the 30 districts we have. We received a phone call from the District to immediately go and pick an urgent communication. It was a letter dated 1st October, informing us that we need to write again requesting for permission to hold the meeting on this date. That meant that the previous permission had been withdrawn. Since we are a party rooted on the principle on of NON-VIOLENCE, we decided to cancel the meeting, the founding president addressed the 900 delegates and informed them of the abrupt changes and promised to call them back another time. We had international Greens Representatives who had come to witness and support this event these were, Mr.Tousaint HINVI, President of the BENIN Green Party and Ms. Ana Marie BIHIRABAKE, Committee member of the BURUNDI Green Movement. Several diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda were also present. We had the option of protesting the District’s new decision and would have called for an immediate demonstration. We did not do this. The police later came to make sure that we had complied with the new decision and went back peacefully.
– 6th October 2009, we wrote to the Mayor of Nyarugenge District requesting him to grant us permission to hold a founding congress on 30th October 2009 at St.Paul Conference Center in Kigali
– 10th October 2009, the Mayor of Nyarugenge District, responded granting us the permission to hold the said meeting on 30th October 2009.
– 13th October, we wrote to the Minister of Justice, requesting the presence of the Public Notary of the Ministry of Justice to come and witness the official signing ceremony of legal documents regarding the formation of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda on 30th October 2009. This Notary is the highest authority in that field. Other Notaries from different Districts had declined to come, clarifying that they cannot work outside their district territorial boundaries. So we had to request for the last resort.
– 27th October 2009, the Minister of Justice responded to our request and informed us that the presence of the public notary does not require the Minister’s consent as the law does not require the Minister to give such consent. That it is the duty of the Public Notary to act always in accordance with the Law. However, he mentioned that by copying that letter to the Public Notary, he was asking the public Notary to do what the Law provides and stick to the provisions of the law in exercising the functions of the Public Notary. This was good news. Our Constitution had already been submitted to the Public Notary, final corrections were submitted and the Constitution with all other founding documents were ready for official signing on 30th October 2009.
– 30th October 2009, it was our D-Day. Over 1500 delegates had been mobilized from across the country. The delegates were seated district per district. The Congress started. The Public Notary came. People who were not our members, forced themselves inside. One of them suddenly stood up and seemed to be traumatized, he started shouting our party slogan, ‘Igihe kirageze’ meaning The Hour Has Come and then switched off to ‘RPF Oyee’ meaning Hail RPF. In a matter of seconds, he lifted the chair he was sitting on threw it across the hall of seated delegates, and continued the same by lifting and throwing up several chairs. Our First Vice President, Late Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA immediately moved from the high-table and got hold of him. In that process a stampede broke up, people started fleeing the room. All over a sudden about 4-6 strong men pushed themselves inside the hall. The door had been closed. Meanwhile the Vice President was still struggling to take this saboteur out of the hall, then those 4-6 men came to the rescue of their colleague, now it was in the middle of the hall and immediately police which was outside the hall came in through a small door and arrested these strong men. Eye witnesses, including our Secretary General then, recognized that these men had GUNS-Pistols behind their back. This was confirmed to the Party President by the diplomats who were around, whom after seeing the guns immediately came to the high-table and requested the Party President to move away from there to a certain corner. The Party president was very shocked and had remained seated at the high-table. The American and Netherlands Embassy had sent representative to witness this event. Immediately after the police had taken those strong men outside the hall, the meeting was called to order and some delegates came back and were seated again peacefully. The Public Notary had already vacated the place. We started again the process to resume the meeting, then soon after a senior police officer grabbed the microphone from the Party President and declared that the meeting has been canceled due to security reasons. He immediately asked all participants to vacate the place. About 40 police men had come to support the 5 police officers who had been overwhelmed with what was happening. Police took the saboteurs in police custody, though all of them were later released in less than ONE HOUR. Our members were also arrested in this process, we followed them up. Other members were injured and police had rushed them to Kigali Central Hospital (CHUK). We followed them up and paid their medical bills. Other members lost their handbags, phones and other belongings. Mothers who had carried babies to the meeting suffered a lot. All our members were released a few days later. On that day, we immediately after held an abrupt press conference, since many local and international media houses including the BBC and Voice of America were present. The Party President, when asked who was behind that, he confirmed that it was the Ruling Party-RPF, because such a thing can never happen in Rwanda. No one in Rwanda can dare fight with the National Police. No one in the post-genocide Rwanda had ever done such a thing. The Government denied this and instead said that it is members of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda who fought due to some disagreements. Everyone around that day including diplomats know very well, that the meeting was sabotaged when the Secretary General was peacefully reading articles of the Internal Rules and Procedures and no discussions had started. UMUVUGIZI Newspaper published the photos of the saboteurs and made a lead story that it was State Security Agents who had sabotaged our meeting. UMUSESO Newspaper also run a story that it was agents of the National Security Services who had sabotaged the founding congress. Both Newspapers have been suspended and banned in Rwanda. The UMUVUGIZI Sub-Editor who wrote the said story ; Jean Leonard RUGAMBAJE, was gunned down recently in Kigali. 30th October was a sad day for democracy in Rwanda.
– 5th November, we wrote to GASABO District (it is the same district hosting the President’s office and several ministries), requesting for permission to hold another founding congress on 20th November 2009 at CASABONITA Hall in Kimironko. This was planned to coincide with the opening ceremony of the COMMONWEALTH HEADS OF STATE MEETING in Tridad and Tobago, where Rwanda’s application to enter into Commonwealth was being accessed. We had expected that since Rwanda was very much interested to enter the Commonwealth, it would do everything possible to let democracy take root in Rwanda and let our party be registered.
– 5th November 2009, we wrote to the Minister of Justice, requesting for the presence of the Public Notary.
– 6th November 2009, the Mayor of GASABO District, responded to us, saying that they cannot give us the required permission to hold the founding congress. He informed us, that since we had problems and our members fought on 30th October and police rescued the situation, we should first get a POLICE CLEARENCE showing how our problems were resolved by the National police, such that the District would have assurance that what happened in Nyarugenge District does not happen again in Gasabo District.
– 11th November 2009, we wrote to the Commissioner General of the National Police, requesting a police clearance but also informing him that none of our members caused any trouble on 30th October, that the people who caused trouble were not known to us. Officially we never accused the RPF or the Government.
– 13th November 2009, the Minister of Justice responded to our request and regretted to inform us that the Public Notary will not be available for the 20th Nov 2009 meeting, since she has other official commitments, the Minister advised us to contact the District Public Notary for the same service.
– 15th November 2010, Party member Gaston BIHIBINDI-Ex soldier was pushed into an army car and rushed to the Ministry of Defense ; he spent three days in an under-ground detention center in the basement of the Ministry of Defense, without food and was mistreated. These details were published by the media.
– 23rd November 2009, the Commissioner General of the National Police, responded to us, saying that he cannot give us the required police clearance, because he is not sure that what caused conflicts between our members on 30th October has been resolved, such that it cannot happen again. He also requested us that if we know more information on the people we say were not our members but caused the trouble, to give it to the police.
– 23rd November 2009, the same day, we responded to the Commissioner General of the National Police and once again requested him for the police clearance and gave him two names of the people we had seen in the photos published by UMUVUGIZI Newspaper : Mr. Claude KIMENYI, resident of Nyamirambo Sector, Nyarugenge District, who is also the President of all money changers in the city, Mr. Emmanuel KAYISIRE, resident of Kimironko Sector, Gasabo Distct, who was as a commission agent at KISEMENTI in Remera.
– 22nd January 2010, the Commissioner General of Police, responded to us, but the Letter was received on 26th January 2010, in a very brief Letter ; the Commissioner General said that it is not in Police’s roles to grant permissions to hold meetings, but to ensure security for people and their property. That, permissions for holding meetings are given by District Authorities, where a meeting is going to be held. We were very astonished; the Police never mentioned anything on the said investigations of the people who caused the trouble, though we had helped by giving some names. The Police never responded on the question of the required Police Clearence but rather talked about permissions for meetings, yet we had not written to the police asking for permission but clearance.
– 2nd February 2010, we wrote once again to GASABO District and informed them that the police was ready to ensure our security, so we once again requested for the permission to have our congress
– 4th February, Frank HABINEZA, Party Leader was physically threatened by a stranger at Hotel Leprintemps in Kigali. The man, said they were monitoring very closely the Party Leader and told him of the people he was going to meet that evening (BBC) and those he had met two days ago (Dutch TV) and when even the emission will be aired out (before world cup). This was enough evidence that indeed someone was watching the Party Leader very closely. He was asked why he is with Ms.Victoire INGABIRE. He was also asked why he is fighting people who paid for his school fees (University Government Sponsorship)
– 5th February, Frank HABINEZA reported the matter to Remera Police station. No results of the investigations till now.
– 10th February 2010, the Mayor of GASABO District, responded and once again referred us to his Letter of 6th November 2009 and requested us to go back to the police and bring a clearance that we shall never have conflicts again. We did not go back to the police, we portioned the Minister of Local Government, who is also in charge of political parties.
– 19th February 2010, we wrote to the Minister of Local Government, asking him to intervene in our situation and use his good offices to impress upon the Mayor of Gasabo District to solve our problem. After one months period we received a phone call from a Ministry official in charge of Good Governance, who requested to meet with us. We met on 24th March 2010, and the Ministry officials showed interest in resolving our problems, but mentioned that we need to agree on the strategies, which can help us to have a peaceful congress. The Ministry official requested for a List of our Members, detailing their particulars, so that it can be shared with all security organs to make sure that people who are not our members never intrude again in our meetings. The security would make sure that it is only the people on the said Lists who will only attend the meeting. We did not refuse or accept, we needed to think about several strategies. We agreed to have another meeting soon and share the strategies. The next three agreed dates for a second meeting were not honored by the Ministry official, since they had other emergencies. The meeting never happened and the Minister never responded to us till now.
– 22nd February 2010, UMUSESO Newspaper, published a lead story saying that FRANK HABINEZA WILL BE KILLED IN 60 DAYS
– 25th February 2010, Frank HABINEZA, Party Leader, wrote to the Minister of Internal Security, Requesting for Protection and mentioned the UMUSESO article and the security threat at Hotel Liprentimpes. The Letter was copied : H.E, the President, Prime Minister, Commissioner General of Police, National Security Service, National Human Rights Commission and All Embassies in Rwanda. TILL NOW THERE IS NO RESPONSE, though the police CID invited us for further details.
– 22nd April 2010, Senior members of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda : Secretary General, Mr. Charles KABANDA, Communication Secretary, Mr. Vincent NSHIMIRIMANA and Deputy Treasurer Ms. Jean Marie Vianey KANTENGWA, defected from the party. They disassociated themselves from the party and called for an abrupt press conference, where even the National Television and Radio came for the first time to our office. They did this when the Party President, Frank HABINEZA, had travelled to Netherlands the same day. They made very serious allegations about him, which might have ended him in prison. He cut his stay short and returned two days after and took control of the situation, those officials were later replaced and the party activities went on.
– 7th May 2010, we wrote to the Minister of Local Government, informing him of our new strategies for registering the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, we mentioned that we had considered that we met with MINALOC officials on 24th March 2010 and considered that due to several emergences on the MINALOC’s side, three other appointments were cancelled, we were unable to meet again to find a common solution to hold a peaceful congress. We informed him that we had examined the Organic Law, No.16/2003 of 27/06/2003, governing political organizations and politicians, and Organic Law No. 19/2007 of 04/05/2007, which modifies and completes Law No.16/2003 of 27/06/2003 and found out that, actually in order for a party to get registered, it does not need to have a party congress, but rather to have its founding documents notified/certified by a public Notary. We had therefore planned to bring very few people as required by the law and at separate occasions, to the Notary, and thus be able to avoid big crowds and be sure that we don’t get any intruders who may become a security threat. We informed the Hon. Minister that the Law normally requires at least 5 people from each district. We planned to bring people province by province and this would at least require 5 working days, since we have 4 provinces and the City of Kigali to complete the process successfully and peacefully. Once the activity of signing the party documents is complete, we then planned to submit officially our dossier to MINALOC, this way, we hoped we could have a peaceful process and it would be a win-win situation. We also informed the Minister that we had been able to re-organise the party Leadership after some of our members defected and we had no problem internally, we are attached on that Letter two of our recent press-releases, one was our official response on the defectors and the second one was about our new executive committee and new party strategies.
– 7th May 2010, we also wrote to the Minister of Justice, requesting to sign founding party documents in the Public Notary’s office. We detailed our plan as mentioned above and requested the presence of the Public Notary from 17th -21st May. We understood that the Public Notary had a lot of other duties, but we believed that since we shall be bringing very small numbers from the provinces, this activity could not take more than two hours a day. We were also privileged to note to the Minister that it was the same Public Notary who had also done the proof-reading and corrections of the Party Constitution, before 30th October 2009, so we believed that this activity will go on very smoothly and peacefully.
– There was no response to both Letters, however the same day, the Minister of Local Government was interviewed on BBC Great lakes and said that whatever the case, a congress was mandatory, that people had to meet and sign at once.
– 17th May 2010, the Leadership of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda confirmed Frank HABINEZA, as the flag bearer for the party in the Presidential Elections of 9th August 2010, but clarified that he would only stand if the Party was registered.
– 18th May 2010, we once again wrote to the District of GASABO, requesting for permission to have a founding congress on 4th June 2010 at CASABONITA Hall. We had planned that if the congress was held on that date, it was still possible to register in time and present a candidate for the Presidential elections. THE MAYOR NEVER RESPONDED TO US, TILL NOW. The ball is in Government hands.
– 24th June 2010, the National Electoral Commission started receiving nominations for presidential candidates
– 24th June 2010, our opposition partner Parti Social Imberakuri had requested for a public demonstration against the National Electoral Commission. In the early hours of the morning the founding President of PS Imberakuri, Me. Bernad NTAGANDA, was arrested from his home while still in bed. He is in prison till now. We rushed to the US Embassy to request for their intervention, several people were arrested from PS Imberakuri and FDU Inkingi. The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s founding President, Frank HABINEZA and First Vice President, Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA were also arrested and held up for one hour. Their National ID’s and telephones had been taken by police, but were later returned. All the three opposition parties were unable to present a presidential candidate.
– 13th July 2010, the First Vice President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Mr.Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA went missing, his car had been found in MUKULA river wetland, a few miles away from Butare town. His house keys, driving license, car keys and national ID were found inside the car. It was smashed a bit on the front driving mirror, but it was not seriously damaged. The same day we went to Butare and followed up the case. The car was packed at HUYE Police station.
– 14th July 2010, Mr. Andre KAGWA RWISEREKA was found dead, nearly decapitated, his head was cut and almost completely removed from his body, eye witnesses identified stabs on his chest. It was a very shocking and terrifying way of killing a human being, it reminded us that of the 1994 genocide.
– 20th July 2010, our First Vice President was buried in Butare where he had lived for the last 16 years
– 20th July 201, campaigns for Presidential Elections started
– 9th August Presidential Elections
– 14th August, FIRST ANIVESARY of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda
– We decided not to contest the process of the Presidential Elections Campaigns
– We also decided not to contest the results of these Presidential elections
– We shall once again request for our party to be registered after the new head of state has been sworn in
– If registered, we shall have two years to prepare ourselves for the 2013 Parliamentary elections
– We are a NON-VIOLENT PARTY, and we are trying our best to do everything possible to avoid ourselves getting into situations that can lead the country into any chaos.
– We shall NEVER support war or armed conflict as a means to solve national problems. We shall continue with a peaceful Legal democratic struggle, and lead our country into the final phase of its Liberation Struggle.
– Indeed The Hour Has Come for the proper democratization process of our country – Rwanda.
URGENT CALL FOR HELP
We urgently call for the release of our party Coordinator for Kigali City, Ms. Seraphine MUKAMANA, will be released soon, she was arrested after a set-up of a bribery case of 20,000 Frw ( about 40 USD), late November 2009 and was sentenced to five years in Prison in the Kigali maximum prison (1930). Last week, she was seriously ill and hospitalized in the prison medical center. Her family fears for her life. She appealed the sentence and the hearing was programmed for 2012, this decision has also been appealed but no new dates have been given. She said in court that her case was politically motivated. They had arrested her husband on assumption that he smokes marijuana, but found out that he does not even smoke tobacco, she was tricked to bring a fine of 20,000 Frw, when she took the money and handed it to a police officer, they said she was bribing a police officer, since then she is in prison. She is a mother of five and was the main bread winner for the family.
Issued on 9th August 2010
Democratic Green Party of Rwanda