By Frank Habineza
Kagame is aware of all the sad events that happened to the Rwandan opposition parties before the presidential elections in August. These sad events cannot just be wished away, they need to be addressed thoroughly so that the nation can move ahead as a whole.
The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda strives for a fully democratic society in Rwanda: free of injustice, poverty, sending its sons and daughters into exile and free from impunity.
For instance Kagame needs to cause immediate investigations into the assassination of Green Party Vice President Andre Kagwa Rwisereka. Kagame is very much aware that the Green Party Vice President went missing on July 13, 2010 and the next day his body was found decapitated in Butare.
The police arrested one Thomas Ntivuguruzwa a few days later and assumed it was a business dispute. We ruled out that assumption. That version is misleading. A few days later we heard that Ntivuguruzwa was released from police custody.
Our misery now is that ever since that release, we got a feeling that the investigators have adopted a posture of irresponsible passivity in the case as there is no more information about these investigations.
Mr President, that’s why you should use all your powers and quicken the investigations, so that
the criminals can be brought to book. Then we can start having hope that such a thing will never happen again in modern Rwanda.
Rwanda is committed to a democratisation process, but that objective cannot be realised under circumstances where a political leader is assassinated and justice is delayed. It just increases political tensions.
During the election campaigns Kagame promised Rwandans to sleep and not be bothered about security threats. But it is very hard for Rwandans to sleep and relax when the killers of Rwisereka are still out there lurking to pounce on their next victim.
In order to enhance the democratisation process and harmony, senior military officers in detention need immediate justice. The arrest of General Karenzi Karake and General Charles Muhire in April need to be addressed. Several months have passed and these two citizens have not seen justice. We understand that the military has its own way of doing things, but we are very concerned that they have not even appeared in any court of law and are possibly not held in official detention facilities.
The recent case of Lt. Col. Rugigana whose parents have failed to trace his whereabouts in all official military detention facilities is a cause for worry. He has also not appeared in any court of law for over a month and Rwandans are concerned whether this will be the trend Kagame’s second term in office.
There is also a pending case of a Congolese national, Gen. Laurent Nkunda, who was arrested in Rwanda on January 22, 2009. He has never appeared in court, his family has expressed serious concerns. In the wake of the grenade attacks in Kigali in the recent months, some people have been arrested and they confessed to the Rwandan police not only to have been responsible but also to have belonged to FDLR rebels in DR Congo. However, they have never appeared in court.
The Constitution of Rwanda, which Kagame vowed to protect a few weeks ago, guarantees all these detainees and every Rwandan citizen a right to appear in court and to a fair hearing.
Opposition parties especially the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Parti Sociale Imberakuri (PS Imberakuri) and the United Democratic Forces (FDU Inkingi) have all faced challenging circumstances beyond any human measure.
The first opposition party, PS-imberakuri got registered in July 2009 after a long period of serious
Challenges. It’s now divided into two factions and its founding President Maître Bernard Ntaganda has been in prison since June 24 on politically motivated charges.
Several PS Imberakuri members also have been in prison without trial.
Since the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda was launched on August 14 2009, it has faced many challenges. They are beaten up, their supporters are arrested and denied justice. For example the party’s coordinator for Kigali, Ms Seraphine Mukamana, has been in Kigali prison since November 2009 on trumped up charges of bribing a police officer with $40 which had been asked as a fine to release her husband who had been arbitrarily arrested. When she appealed her five-year prison sentence after being denied bail, court fixed the hearing of her case in 2012. By that time, Mukamana, a mother of four, will have been in prison for almost three years, more than half of her jail term. Justice delayed is justice denied.
Kagame needs to do what he promised during and after the elections. During his first media interview after the August presidential elections, Kagame said that The Green Party failed to get the 200 signatures and did not follow the procedure to get registered. That’s a lie. In the party’s last congress of October 30, 2009 at St. Paul, there were over 1500 delegates and the one of October 2, 2009 at CANA Conference Hall, had 900 delegates. All this is far above what the law requires, but the party was blocked from registration by overzealous government fanatics, using manipulation and blackmail.
The United Democratic Forces –FDU Inkingi, had been functioning from exile in the Netherlands. In January 2010, its leader Victoire Ingabire decided to come back home and register the party so that she could stand in the presidential elections. She was never allowed to register her party or stand for election. Her case is well known both to the local and international community. She was subsequently placed under house arrest since April 2010. How can Rwanda achieve democracy under such restrictive circumstances?
All the three opposition parties were not allowed to participate in the Augustpresidential Elections. This is not something the RPF and Kagame can just wish away. They are very serious concerns that need redress. There cannot be sustainable economic development without democracy. Rwanda should not be a sample of economic development versus democracy. It is your cal, Mr Kagame.
Frank Habineza is the founding president of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda