Rwandan Ex-Minister and Ex-Ambassador Flees To Burundi
Kigali – Following years of speculation after he lost his job, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Al Hajj Andre Habib Bumaya may have finally left the country, and the party leader and colleagues in the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) say it is his right to leave.
Considered the star entrant in President Paul Kagame’s first government 10 years ago, Mr. Bumaya was just a government employ before the Genocide. The latter government posted him to Libya as ambassador and later held to two cabinet positions – only to be kicked out and followed with brutal criticism from the President.
The ex-diplomat’s political time-table in the country seems to have come to an end in February.
Mr. Bumaya supposedly left the country on Feb. 22 headed for Burundi. A week later on Feb 27, the politician who rode to fame on the Muslim ticket, emailed PDI boss and current Internal Security Minister Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana.
The news about Mr. Bumaya’s exile was communicated behind closed-doors by Sheikh Harelimana to party members from across the country at a party conference on Saturday. As the cameras and microphones were on, Mr. Harelimana reaffirmed the party’s support for President Kagame’s candidacy in the August poll.
Mr. Harelimana said he is barely even a-tenth of the person of President Kagame. After the ceremonial speeches and the journalists were not in the room, Mr. Harelimana broke the news nobody was expecting.
André Bumaya is no longer a member of PDI, revealed Mr. Harelimana, according to different delegates who attended the conference. Bumaya wrote to him an email saying he had to leave the country for “personal reasons” and that he will communicate his political stand in the coming days.
For that matter, Mr. Harelimana continued, we shall consider him not a member.
Mr. Bumaya was among the 20 ministers in President Kagame’s first cabinet in 2000 when he replaced ex-leader Pasteur Bizimungu. Mr. Bumaya was named Foreign Affairs Minister, a post he lost two years later to Dr. Charles Murigande.
The soft-spoken, but arrogant Mr. Bumaya, who often rode to the top on the fact that he was head of the PDI party – considered to be for Muslims, was moved to the Ministry of Public Service. Prior to the 2003 Constitution which outlawed religious links for parties, the “I” was “Islamic”, but was changed to “Ideal”.
President Kagame again sacked Mr. Bumaya from cabinet in March 2006 amid continued criticism from Parliament, media and trade unions blaming him for the woos that had grappled the Ministry of Labour and Public Service.
In the same period up until recently, government came under immense pressure from donors to reform the public service. Thousands of government employees lost their jobs. Bitter complaints however emerged from CESTRAR – the national trade union umbrella about the way the retrenchment program had been handled.
In 2005, a Parliamentary probe was instituted to look into the complaints. A damning report accused Mr. Bumaya of implementing the massive retrenchment prior to the creation of the Constitutional Public Service Commission; failing to create a national labour policy; and malpractices in the hiring and firing processes.
As indication that he had clearly fallen out of favour with the appointing authority, Mr. Bumaya was finally thrown out of government in March 2006, but not without fierce criticism from the President.
President Kagame had openly attacked Mr. Bumaya in a closed-door government retreat a month earlier. In a clear reference to Mr. Bumaya, President Kagame gave him as an example of Cabinet ministers, who he said go around complaining that they don’t posses recruitment powers. The President castigated such ill-complaints saying they were only bent on taking the country back to the old corrupt regimes.
Enters Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana
PDI insiders who have watched the political drama unfold in the small party which has risen to glory on the strength of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) say the career of Mr. Bumaya started to get in trouble following the 2003 presidential poll.
Mr. Kagame was overwhelmingly elected with Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana serving as the vice president of the electoral commission. Mr. Harelimana was eventually appointed Governor of the trouble-ridden Western Province.
In the March 2006 cabinet changes, Mr. Harelimana was brought into government as Internal Security Minister – coincidentally as party rival Mr. Bumaya was thrown out.
The humiliation seemed to have been overwhelming that Mr. Bumaya moved out of the country – prompting the rumour-mill to take its toll that he had fled. It later emerged that he was in the United States doing a masters in international relations.
Mr. Harelimana’s rise up the party ladder was not about to stop. In 2007, he was elected to lead the small party, on the strong backing of the head of the Islamic faith in the country Sheikh Habimana Swaleh. This seems to have sealed the political relevance of Mr. Bumaya.
Though Mr. Bumaya became the spokesman of PDI, observers believed he was no longer politically relevant anymore. His appearance at the high-table was no more, as the profile of the Internal Security Minister got more entrenched.
The fall from grace for Mr. Bumaya was clearly over, for a man who appeared from the blue to be named ambassador to Libya by the post Genocide government.
Established in 1991 as the Islamic Democratic Party (Parti démocratique islamique), it came up at the time ex-president Habyarimana Juvenal was opening up political space to multiparty politics.
PDI joined forces with the RPF in the 2003 legislative election and won two seats in the Chamber of Deputes. Its leader was Mr. Bumaya.
In the current Lower Chamber, there are two Deputes representing PDI.