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Government Shelves Green Party Demands for ‘Political Reforms’

by KT Press Staff Writer
2:01 pm
Green Party President Frank Habineza (c)

Green Party President Frank Habineza (c)

A small political party with no parliamentary representation has been told by government that its demands for “political and electoral reforms” are not shared by any other section of Rwandan society – and so no need for any changes.

There is no strong rationale for a fundamental change to the current policy and legal frameworks on elections and political parties, according to the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB) in written response to the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda.

For about two years now, Green Party leader Frank Habineza has petitioned different arms of government arguing that existing laws on elections do not favour small parties. The political grouping has been around for more than eight years but got registered in August 2013.

The group did not take part in the September 2013 parliamentary polls – citing unfavorable electoral laws. For example, to enter parliament, a party must garner more than 5 percent of the votes. The same rule applies to individual candidates who want a seat in the house without the backing of any political party.

Other key demands include allowing the media to announce election results after being declared by poll officials at all polling stations and tallying centres. The group also wants political party representations in the National Electoral Commission (NEC). They also want article 24 of the political organisations law thrown out – which prohibits political parties to accept donations from foreign organisations.

Habineza and his party want these rules amended or scrapped altogether. But despite petitioning parliament and office of the Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi, the Green Party seems to have reached nowhere.

The RGB is the government body charged with handling political party operations. The agency has written to the Green Party outlining grounds for dismissal of their petition.

RGB says that for the “political and electoral reforms” which the Green Party is pushing to be reviewed, “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,” says the response from the governance body, concluding that the Green Party meets none of these criteria.

Habineza says after failing to change the system through engagement with government, he has another plan.

“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,” he said in a statement.

No indication as to when he will go to court. The group has also previously threatened to boycott the 2017 presidential polls and the parliamentary elections the following year – if its agenda is not given due consideration.