Umushyikirano: Dr. Frank Habineza’s Refused Contributions Highlight Challenges in Rwanda’s Political Dialogue

Dr Frank Habineza

Dr. Frank Habineza, the leader of the Green Party and a member of the Rwandan Parliament, has recently expressed his desire for a more active participation of political parties in the preparation of the Umushyikirano, a significant national forum in Rwanda. During the last two sessions of the Umushyikirano, Habineza attempted to intervene and ask questions on multiple occasions, but his contributions did not receive the anticipated attention. He reported that a senior official suggested he express himself in Parliament, where he has a platform, rather than during the Umushyikirano.

This situation is not unique. Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, President of the opposition party DALFA-Umurinzi, criticized the lack of representation of opposition voices at the Umushyikirano in an interview with the Voice of America correspondent in Kigali. These incidents raise questions about the space given to divergent voices in Rwanda’s national dialogues.

Rwandan political analysts describe the Umushyikirano as a platform that demonstrates President Kagame’s power and reinforces his prestige. Although citizens can present issues, it is often observed that contributions begin with praises for President Kagame. This trend was particularly noted during the latest Umushyikirano.

These developments provide insight into the direction of the elections scheduled for the summer of 2024 and governance in Rwanda. While forums like the Umushyikirano are supposed to be spaces for the plans and ideas of all, it appears that certain voices are underrepresented or ignored. This observation underscores the importance of diversity and inclusion in political processes, especially in the context of electoral preparation.