This article was originally posted last week on the Rwanda News Agency website, but it quickly became unavailable. Thankfully, Save Rwanda had already reposted the story.
Rwandan Green Party blocked from meeting: “Sad Day for Democracy in Rwanda” (10/5/09)
Kigali: They moved hundreds of kilometers – some for the first time to the capital. Others braved the trouble of having to move with babies. Some abandoned their jobs to be in Kigali for the event that did not happen. Up to 900 supposed delegates of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) found themselves at the center of an unexpected controversy, RNA reports.
The newly formed party was on Friday told it could not hold a scheduled delegates’ conference. Interim party officials had booked St. Famille CANA hall – owned by the Kigali catholic diocese. The large number of delegates meant some had to stand outside anxiously waiting for the grand event to start.
These delegates had come all the way to give their nomination signatures to the new party. It is these signatures which party officials hoped would form part of the registration dossier with the Ministry of Local Government.
“I don’t know how I will get back to Rusizi district in western province – a five hour journey, moreover without accomplishing what had brought me here,” said Annonciata Nyirakanyana, while breast feeding her son.
Looking at the crowd, many were youths. Notable among the delegates were also a few older men and women. There are about a dozen mothers. Since all have now been informed the conference is taking place anymore, they all stand outside looking like people who have lost their jobs.
The genesis of the chaos that these people were witnessing first hand started at 8:30am when an official from Nyarugenge district arrived at the event venue with a letter from the Nyarugenge district mayor Rutayisire Origène.
The mayor writes in response to another letter sent September 29 from the Green party which had informed him of the intension to have their meeting on Friday. Party officials were letting him know that they already had a place booked.
However, Green party officials had also informed him in their letter that since the Nyarugenge notary was not available, they would secure another notary – which they indeed effected.
The mayor’s response meant that the even with a new notary, the Green party would not be allowed to hold the meeting – only after seeking new permission. This will now be the forth time the conference has been forced to postpone. The party has had to incur expenses to transport the delegates.
“From what I have witnessed today, I do not think there is there democracy in Rwanda,” retorts Munyankumburwa Innocent. “To me, this means that the government is not yet ready for multiparty democracy. If they say parties do exist, then what is this?”
For interim party president Mr. Frank Habineza: “Someone is sabotaging us”.
“Imagine all the expenses we have incurred. I really cannot explain who is behind all this,” he furiously shouts as he speaks to reporters. “This really is a sad day for democracy in this country.”
The smartly dressed female party officials keep loitering around to calm their seemingly frustrated sympathizers. In a corner, one official – looking disturbed slams a bunch of books on a table, when RNA put to her that the party should write another letter for permission as requested by the mayor.
“We are tired of this kind of way of doing things in this country,” she dismissively says. “No one seems to be able to tell you the truth. This one says the other is responsible, the other says the next one is responsible.”