The Chronicles

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Category: Politics

  • RPF not interested in third term – Senator Tito Rutaremara

    The ruling party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) has finally offered to give its official position in the ongoing serialisation of the third term debate and the possibility of amending the constitution to allow president Kagame to stand again as called for by Minister Musa Fazil Harerimana. In an exclusive interview with The Chronicles touching on a range of issues on January 3, 2012, one of the party’s high level officials and founders, Senator Tito Rutaremara emphasised that the party is against the amendment of the constitution to delete term limits or to introduce a third term to allow president Kagame to stand again.

    “When we have a constitution written by people, debated by people, voted by people and passed by people, in order to change it you have to have a very serious reason,” observed Senator Tito adding that the only think that would call for prolonging President Kagame’s stay in office after his current second and last constitution term is if the country was at war and no time to organize elections.

    He noted, “For instance, if we are at a war and we don’t have time to go to elections, then we can let him go on. That is one of the reasons”.
    The former Ombudsman, who is also the Commissioner for communication and media within the RPF added that even if his party wanted the constitution changed to introduce a third term, they would not use PDI or any other political party.

    The senator went on, “[Some] people.. are saying we are using PDI to change the constitution…No, what RPF says it does it. You understand? We don’t fear! When we said we are going to attack to liberate the country… we did it. When we said we are going to chase president Habyarimana…we did it! And we said we are going to change the politics of this country and we did [it]! What we really say we are going to do we do it, because we don’t hide. Now if we are to do it [change the constitution]… why should we use PDI? No”. We can’t use another party… We can’t do that”

    RFP’s rebuttal is in response to the claim by FDU-Inkingi of embattled Victoire Ingabire that it was using PDI and Minister Fazil to engineer changing the constitution to introduce a third term for president Kagame. Boniface Twagirimana, the FDU-Inkingi vice president told The Chronicles on December 07, that Sheikh Harerimana’s call for the third term “is a strategy” used “by RPF members…because they are ashamed to say it under the RPF umberella”.
    Tito also asserts that RPF initially did not want to enter into the third term fray but was keeping tabs with the debate in the media after PDI’s chairman and Minister of Internal Security, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had told The Chronicles that his party wished to amend the constitution to allow President Kagame to stand for a third term.

    In the same interview, minister Fazil said that his PDI had written to each party in the forum for political parties to back the proposal. Some parties we have interviewed acknowledged that they had received the letter. For instance, Phoebe Kanyange, the chairperson of PSP admitted to The Chronicles that her party had read the letter, but suggested that PDI instead should have sent their proposition to parliament for discussions.
    Senator Rutaremara however says that his party knows nothing about the letter.

    RPF needs no outsider to act on its behalf
    Instead, Tito says RPF has its unique and well known means of introducing policy and making decisions right from the village level to the national level, where the party’s general assembly validates it before taking the resolution to a referendum. “That is how we do things, when we say something we do it and when we do it, 99 percent of the time, we succeed. Why should we use PDI? Are they more (influential) than RPF?” he poses.

    Moreover, the former Ombudsman reminds of the president’s statement at the 11th RPF congress on December 17 when he said he did not want to keep repeating himself in answering the media, saying that he is not interested in standing for the third term, because, even whe he clearly states his stand, the media gets it wrong.

    Kagame doesn’t lie
    When we asked Rutaremara whether he believes that Kagame may change his stated stand regarding term limits and his wish to stand down after his current second term expires in 2017, he said: “The president? I have worked with president since 1986 and I know that he means what he says. I remember when the interahamwe were five kms from the border in Goma. He asked the international community to disarm them and if you are not doing it, we are coming to attack because it was something big, they were there [ready] to attack. The international did nothing and we went there! So imagine if he challenged the whole world, why should he hide for a few Rwandans, 11 millions. Why should he [be] hiding [that he wants a third term]?

    Who will succeed Kagame and is Tito ready to take the mantle?
    If President Kagame does not carry on as head of state after 2017, Rutaremara believes RPF would have other competent candidates. “We have so many people in RPF but we can even have other good names in other party among 11 million Rwandans”. However, Tito declined to name who he thinks might be qualified to succeed president Kagame saying that if he did so, it would be interpreted as if he is campaigning for that person.

    When asked whether he was ready and considering to run for president, he answered: “…I can’t [stand for president] because this country needs young people and there are many young people, new blood in this country, I can use my wisdom in other [ways]”. Rutaremara also underscores that RPF believes in institutions and not individuals, adding, “The structures will remain for more than 200 years, but we will never create a president who will remain for 200 years. We are not God,” he stresses.

    The RPF founder member also talked about a range of other issues, including the fight against corruption in Rwanda, who might succeed him as the ombudsman among other issues.

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  • Our party weak to contest for presidency – Rucibigango

    THE PRESIDENT Of the Labour Party (PRS) in Rwanda, Jean Baptist Rucibigango told The Chronicles in an exclusive interview that his party is weak and not ready to contesting for the presidency in 2017 when President Kagame is expected to end his second and final constitutional mandate. Hon Rucibigango said “…PSR is not ready” and in 2017,

    “we shall still be organising ourselves…we have no money to open up offices [out of Kigali]….we are still interested in giving civic education” to our members.

    The leader of PSR also wondered “who would be interested in leading a country like Rwanda still divided along ethnic lines” among other problems cited. The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party candidate President Kagame is serving out his last term of office – but already, a small coalition partner the Rwanda Labour Party (PSR) categorically affirms it does not aspire to take over the highest office in the land.

    Besides stating that his party is not ready to lead, he added: “That [seeking the presidency] has never been part of our political programme,” said party leader, Hon Jean Baptist Rucibigango in an interview with The Chronicles last week. “We do not want power. Our programme entails advocacy for the social welfare of all Rwandans.”

    The motivation behind this position, Rucibigango says, is because parties focus more on taking the presidency – overlooking the concerns of the electorate. As to whether the constitution should be amended to make room for President Kagame to rule until he sees fit to leave, Rucibigango preferred not to speak about the issue saying, “leave me out of that debate”.

    The PSR party rose as a university student movement in the 1980s. In 1992, following mounting internal and donor pressure on ex-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana to open up political space to his critics, PSR was born. It had observer status during the 1993 Arusha talks that eventually led to a peace deal meant to halt the advancing Rwanda Patriotic Army rebels.

    PSR would eventually break up just before the 1994 genocide– in what was blamed on the ruling MRND party. The current leadership even accuses the splinter group – which called itself the United Democratic Workers (RTD), of being part of the execution machine for the genocide. Over the years, it has been in coalition with the dominant RPF – backing President Kagame in the 2003 and 2010 presidential polls. During the parliamentary elections in 2003 and 2008, PSR along with six other small parties agreed with the RPF to field a single list of candidates. PSR received one single seat among the list of 42 slots on the coalition list. Rucibigango is party leader and the only PSR Member of Parliament.

    Why is PSR not ready to contest for the presidency?
    “You could win power by playing the ethnic card,” says the lawmaker. “PALIMEHUTU manipulated the Hutus and won more than 80 percent of the vote, or ZANU-PF of [President Robert] Mugabe sidelined others through the same tactic. “PALIMEHUTU’s rule did not last for even ten years as it was deposed in 1973 despite winning more than 80 percent of the votes earlier!” adds Rucibigango.

    “Am trying to illustrate to you that putting political power at the front of a party’s political programme, is not a good idea. PALIMEHUTU ruled for less than ten years!” So who does PSR intend to back come 2017? Rucibigango is non-committal, and prefers not to even speak about the subject.
    “We just elected President Kagame last year,” he argues. “In the next six years, we are much more concerned on improving the lives of Rwandans than who will replace the RPF candidate.”

    When put to him that some parties have publicly said they want the constitution amended to allow President Kagame continue ruling past 2017, Rucibigango simply retorted: “I have not yet thought about that…The discussion about that [President Kagame seeking reelection] should end there. If others have decided, it is their choice.”

    When we informed him that the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) of Internal Affairs Minister, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana had made it clear they wanted President Kagame’s two term lengthened, Rucibigango said the parties had an unwritten understanding not to comment on each other’s affairs.
    “That can result in criticising others…that could be the culture elsewhere, but in Rwanda we have chosen the path of mutual respect…actually we should end that discussion or the interview stops.

    “Besides, choosing who PSR will support is not the choice of Rucibigango. NO! It is a long process that involves all party organs right from the grassroots,” says the lawmaker, but he declines to divulge the number of party members on the PSR register. “We have many members – actually even you [The Chronicles reporters] are members because you are employees; the challenge we face is resources to organise our members,” Rucibigango says, before adding: “Besides, even if I had a particular figure, I would not tell you. That is a secret every party keeps.”

    Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi under fire
    Among the founders of PSR is exiled politician Dr. Jean Baptist Mberabahizi – who is currently Secretary General of the European-based wing of the United Democratic Forum Inkingi (FDU-Inkingi), the party of embattled opposition politician Victoire Ingabire who is on prosecution in the country over several serious charges.

    Rucibigango says Mberabahizi has “no personality”. “He left PSR…joined the RPF after the war and is now with Ingabire. Would you take such a person seriously?” poses Rucibigango, adding that he had attempted to woo Mberabahizi against joining Ingabire, but it was too late.“He has no ideology,” he recaps.

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  • Rudasingwa was an RPF imposter, Gahima changed – Sen. Tito

    Senior Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) member, Senator Tito Rutaremara has told The Chronicles that the former Director of Cabinet in the President office, Dr. Théogene Rudasingwa,

    at one time a senior cadre now turned dissident had joined the party pretending to have given up fighting the RPF and fighting only to liberate the country but in reality he had other motives. Tito was responding to the claim made by the three RPF dissidents of Rudasingwa, Gerard Gahima and Kayumba Nyamwasa that the party has changed and turned dictatorial.

    The Senator stated: “Rudasingwa was initially not in RPF. He was in FROLINA, a party that was fighting RPF during 80s as an executive member. He later joined RPF in 1990 when we started the war” Rutaremara added, “When we were together, I thought he [Rudasingwa] had changed because before that, he was bad [mannered] creating animosity within the RPF.

    Did he change? We thought he [had] changed when he joined us but he simply did not.” With regard to Gahima and Kayumba, Tito stated, “Gahima changed but Kayumba was not [part of the original RPF founders]. Gahima I can say he changed because Kayumba came in 1990 [from Northern Uganda where he was based] but Gahima started with RPF, we started together”.

    Tito notes that “Gahima may have played a key role in the formation of the party but he seemed to have ulterior motives.” In an exclusive interview with The Chronicles, he said that RPF welcomes anyone willing to join the ruling party regardless of one’s former affiliations. Rutaremara is, however, insistent that Rudasingwa duped the party.

    Senator Tito says that the liberation struggle brought together people of varying opinions and agendas, using the analogy of separating the grain from the chuff. He says some of the RPF members lost the true sense of the liberation struggle as vanguards of the party and says this normally happens. To illustrate, he compares a revolutionary party to a bus where some of the passengers disembark while others bode.

    “It is like a bus coming from Butare for example. When it reaches Save some [passengers] get out, others try to come up to Gitarama and when they see they are no longer useful, they get out. When others arrive at Giti cy’Incyoni, they say they want to get [a] higher pay, or head a good ministry and then [when they do not get their way, they] get out,” he narrates.

    For Rutaremara, party members with great determination to liberate the country are still in the party working hard to put in place party structures and laying the foundation for an institution governed country. He, says that the problem with former party members like Rudasingwa and Gahiman is caused by a vice common in liberation movements where while many party members fight for the total liberation of the country, a few fight in order “to liberate themselves by simply getting a good job or draw a good salary”

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  • Polygamy should be legalised-says Minister Fazil

    THE MINISTER For Internal Security, who is also the President of the Idealist Democratic Party (PDI), Fazil Harerimana has said that polygamy should be legalised in Rwanda

    and that his party supports the move. This would mean amending the constitution and the law on marriage regimes to pave way for a man to legally marry more than one woman.Article 26 of the 2003 Rwandan constitution provides for one-man one-woman in marriage. It states; “Only monogamous marriages shall be recognised within the conditions and forms prescribed by law.” The above provision also cemented the law on marriage regimes of 1999 which stipulates that marriage is a union between a single man and a women with both having equal rights in marriage.

    In an exclusive interview with The Chronicles on November 2, 2011, the president of PDI, formerly the Islamic Democratic Party said; “Our party proposed to parliamentarians to vote for a law legalising polygamy, but our idea was not supported. We believe however, that time will come when the law will be voted on Rwandans demand”.

    According to Harerimana, “the world changes constantly and people accept an idea which had earlier been rejected through discussion”. Without supporting it, the example he gave to validate his party’s strategy to patiently wait for a time when their view would eventually be accepted is homosexual marriages which he said had been discussed in many [mainly European] countries and rejected but later accepted. Minister Harerimana’s view, which he shares with his party, is that “polygamy would be legalised one day as it was in ancient times where having only one woman was not dictated by law.” Islam, his religion also accepts polygamy.

    Despite his optimism however, Harerimana’s quest for polygamy is likely to remain a wish in the largely Christian and overpopulated Rwanda in the age of gender equality. Other important issues raised by Hon Harerimana include rejecting the claim that RPF controls PDI and other parties made by some organisations as contempt of their parties. He also rejected claims made by a former US ambassador to Rwanda in a cable published by whistleblower website Wiki-leaks as uninformed and reading from the old history of Rwandan leadership.

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