(English) Rwanda: The new law on political parties is meant to permanently seal off the political space

In anticipation of legislative elections in August-September 2013, the Kigali regime has changed the law on political parties so that it may permanently seal off the political space.
It was believed that in Rwanda, institutions and draconian laws had reached the bottom and that it was unimaginable that the Rwandan regime could still seal off the political space. Well, no, the Rwandan dictatorship knows no bottom. Indeed, a new institution, the Rwanda Governance Board, created in 2011, and the new law on political parties recently adopted by the Senate Chamber, will be responsible for continuing to push the system into an abysmal hole.
With regard to the registration and the recognition of political parties, the responsibilities have been transferred to a nebula called Rwanda Governance Board mentioned above whose independence is highly questionable and dubious given the fact that its creation and performance contract depend on the discretion of the Government.
While under the previous law, political parties used to only announce their participation in the elections, under the new law which is meant to keep out political parties of the opposition, political parties are required to apply for the authorization to participate in the elections and hold public meetings. It just boggles the mind.
The prohibitions against political parties (Articles 20 to 39) are based on criteria that are vague and unclear such as: divisive acts, information that can incite division, acts that lend a hand to the enemy, telling the truth during the election campaign, avoiding false litigation, tarnishing the image of Rwanda, statements that may cause any kind of discrimination and division, acts that may cause war, having a genocidal ideology, and so on. This means that for anything a political party may be unfairly penalized, suspended or simply prohibited.
Even though the requirements for registration set forth in Articles 9, 10 and 11 can be met, any political party may arbitrarily be denied registration without possibility to appeal against the decision of the Rwanda Governance Board. To make it even worse, this institution is not required to justify its decision.
It is also important to point out a large propensity of the judiciary to interfere in matters relating to the internal management of political parties.
Finally, even though we appreciate the voluntary participation in the forum of political parties, the recognition of political parties of the opposition is not yet acquired.
He who still doubted the willingness of the current regime in Rwanda to monopolize alone the public life and to occupy all of the political space together with its satellite parties, should he keep his eyes opened, here is the evidence.
In conclusion, the political party FDU-Inkingi condemns this wicked law which was adopted without consultation with the sole purpose to prevent political parties of the opposition from registration and competition for the suffrage of citizens.
Having already been denied the authorization to hold its founding congress for its registration as a legally constituted political party, with a law on political parties in the context of an obvious democratic backsliding and a new institution, the Rwanda Governance Board, that is under the total control of the Rwandan regime, the political party FDU-Inkingi is watching the closure of the final curtain of the democratic pluralism in Rwanda. With all legal means, the political party FDU-Inkingi will continue to request the opening of political space inRwanda. It therefore calls upon all Rwandans to remain mobilized to reclaim their basic rights.
Done in Paris, on May 13, 2013
Dr. Emmanuel Mwiseneza
Commissioner for Information and Communication

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