Rwanda Government refuses to make political and electoral reforms demanded by the opposition

Dr Frank Habineza

The Rwandan Government, through the Rwanda Governance Board, the body that registers political parties, negatively responded to the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s demands for political and electoral reforms.

The opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda had submitted its demands for political and electoral reforms to the Rwandan Prime Minister on 19th April 2016, this was after a failed attempt to the Rwandan Parliament on 20th February 2016 and to the National Electoral Commission on 2nd December 2014. All previous instances produced no positive results.

In a letter dated 31st August 2016, the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), responded negatively to all the ten requests for political and electoral reforms calling them individual opinions without substantive evidence.

Rwanda Governance Board stated that all laws regulating the political aspects, which we call for revision, have been enacted following an extensive and inclusive process of consultations, with a wide range of stakeholders, including all political parties and civil society organisations. That they represent policy choices underpinning wide political consensus in Rwanda. RGB further stated that for Government to change such policies, two imperatives for policy change must be proven evident. One is the irrefutable evidence that the existing policy is not working well and the second is a sizeable number of policy actors demanding for the change. The Governance Board concluded that there is no strong rationale for a fundamental change to the current policy and legal frameworks on elections and political parties.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda is very shocked by this negative response from the Rwandan Government, especially because all the mentioned stakeholders’ consultations happened before the party existed legally. This being one of the main reasons why this opposition party was started, because several of political and electoral laws enacted in advance are not favourable for a vibrant democracy in Rwanda, they favour the growth of a one party state system. Political and electoral reforms favour a healthy competition between several political actors and help in building trust in the electorate and different stakeholders. Failure to make political and electoral reforms becomes a threat to sustainable peace and security as evidenced in several African countries.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, will continue this process by consulting all political actors in the National Consultative Forum of Political Organisations in Rwanda. The party will also consult with its lawyers on a possible law-suit, the judiciary seems to be next logical remedy after failing to get a positive response from the Legislature and the Executive. Superior Party organs will consider other possible actions.

Done at Kigali on 21st September 2016

Dr.Frank Habineza

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda