The Insider Uganda will serialise a critical paper by Mr John Karuranga, the President of the Rwanda People’s Party titled: “Opinions and Proposals on Rwandan Constitution Reform to Abolish Rwanda’s Presidential Term Limits”.
The paper will be published in four parts; the first part of the paper traces the history of Rwanda from colonial times to present and then tackles the ongoing debate on presidential term limits.
Fellow Rwandans and friends of Rwanda, there has been counter proposals and counter attacks both for and against the removal on presidential terms.
We have noted that over 3.7 million Rwandans tendered their wish to remove it while eleven million Rwandans expressed their reluctance about removing the term limit.
Rwanda People’s Party [RPP] congratulates both parties for the healthy and constructive debates in matters of national interest.
Let us ask ourselves, does Rwanda need a term limit or elect someone who is capable of enhancing the struggle for economic independence and development which is critical for political, social and economic progress?
Does Africa need heads of states that can be voted in or out of power on the basis of their competency or incompetency in line with their counterparts in Europe, Canada and Australia?
Could it be that African democracies are regarded as inferior than other world democracies or could it be that Africans are incapable of making their own informed choices?
Could this be an example of colonial views persisting in the West regarding the inferiority of Africans?
After the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis, Rwanda has recovered and re-joined the list of civilized nations. Rwanda started rebuilding itself and rehabilitated its citizens, who were very badly traumatised.
The social, political and economic infrastructures had been virtually destroyed by the FAR and its allied Interahamwe militias.
Rwanda as a nation and its people were in crisis when the RPF took over power in July 1994.
The main reasons for the Genocide was to force Tutsi out of Rwanda and also to make Rwanda ungovernable, for decades and also to ensure that Rwanda becomes a failed state and where Rwandans would be incarcerated in the IDP concentration camps for another 50 years, sustained by European humanitarian aid.
However, despite all the brutality and inhuman actions perpetrated on Rwanda and its people, the perpetrators and their masters failed to achieve their objectives.
Rwandans have managed to put behind the sorrow and pains behind them and have moved on to build a free Rwanda for all its children, free from the haemorrhaging of politics of ethnic, hate, extremist, discrimination and sectarian ideology that was a hallmark of the Habyarimana’s regime.
Today, for those who didn’t physically witnessed the anguish, despair, and tears of the tragedy of 1994, and those who witnessed these horrors with their own eyes and on TVs and in the world’s newspapers, they may find it difficult to believe that today’s Rwanda is a resurrection of the Rwanda of 1994.
Rwanda has been rebuilt and recovered to a once unimaginable scale. In terms of efficiency in public services management, Rwanda is the 1st in Africa and it ranked 7th among global nations that utilizes their resources efficiently to benefit their citizens, followed by Switzerland (9th) and Luxembourg (10th), according to the WEL, Report 20014-2015.
Rwanda is the only country in Africa that has utilized its resources effectively. The country’s economic prospects are among the top five nations in Africa, along with Botswana, Namibia, Morocco and Algeria.
Rwanda has achieved all of this despite being the recipient of foreign aid. Rwanda is ranked among the most progressive African nations despite having no gold, diamonds, coltan, bauxite, silver, nickel, soft fuel and solid fuel to generate income for government spending.
Despite the lack of resources, Rwanda has been transformed from the nation of terror that was characterized by the 35 years of infamous policies of ethnic, hate, racism, extremist, discrimination and sectarian which can be summarized by the extent of brutality of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
Today, Rwanda is a leading nation among the community of civilized nations that is offering hope to the world.
It has become a symbol and a role model to the world and its unique model of peace and reconciliation is a transferable model to other countries and has become a recognised symbol of reconciliation and peace in the continent and around the globe.
Rwanda Military and Police Forces enjoy world-class training and are highly disciplined.
In terms of peace keeping, the Rwanda’s contingent of men and women, their peacekeeping experiences and resilience have won them much international praise, wherever they go on peace mission, they leave a footprint wherever they have been and earned the respect of the international community.
For the past 21 years, Rwanda and its people have gone through a remarkable transformation in their lives of the people in all its aspects.
In terms of education for all, equal right and opportunity for men and women of all walks of life, health care for all, education for all, millions of Rwandans have been lifted below the poverty line; Rwanda is among the countries that will meet the millennium targets despite our past tragedies.
Above all Rwanda is a nation of rule of law. The culture of previous impunity that protected the Rwandan politicians, educated elite, military and police officers has been thrown into the waste basket.
As Republican Presidential hopeful Trump put it that “America is a nation of law” when he was asked to comment on Ms Kim Davis, a government official that refused to issue a marriage license to same sex couples.
Like the US, Rwanda is also a nation governed by the rule of law and justice for all and its fight against impunity has no boundaries.
12 million Rwandans together have worked as a team to achieve that progress. The twelve million Rwandans that have been living in Rwanda are the Rwanda of today and tomorrow.
Together, they have made and still are making the ultimate sacrifice and made the nation what it is today. These twelve million Rwandans ultimately know what they want and know what is best for their country.
They are the actual Rwandans that have to make the ultimate decision on their destiny. We believe the world is becoming a dangerous place, if it allows the overturning of critical pillars of democratic process.
A referendum or parliamentary debate is the only acceptable democratic means available to resolve political and constitutional disputes whenever they arise.
Term limits debate
The question of removing a term limit in Rwanda should only be for Rwandans and not made because of a foreign imposed decision.
It has nothing to do with foreigners and Rwandans in abroad with foreign citizenship. The RPP believes in the need for a Constitution reform The RPP believes democracy is about people power.
Nothing should be allowed to limit their democratic rights and the dignity of the resilient people of Rwanda should they wish to determine their own destiny.
To this extent, the RPP will equivocally, support the referendum outcome of the Rwandan people, and recognises that the men and women of this unique and extraordinary nation of ours have the sole and ultimate right, to make the important decision on term limits.
The Rwandan people have achieved so much together in the past 21 years. They are the ones who have been sharing the times of joys and pain that this beautiful country of ours has been going through for the past two decades.
They are the ultimate source of power in Rwanda yet the future of their country doesn’t lay in their hands, rather it could be decided by foreigners or the Rwandans that live comfortably in western capitals, the majority of whom have foreign nationalities.
The RPP will never support any one that seeks to impose himself on the people of Rwanda by means of force or undemocratic means.
The RPP will also accept and work with any Rwandan chosen as a candidate in the 2017 elections even if they decide to nominate the First Lady as a presidential candidate.
The RPP will strongly support any political change within the framework of the constitution. The RPP calls on the law makers in Rwanda to enact political and electoral reform.
The RPP calls upon law makers to limit the president’s mandate to five years instead of seven years. To enact the constitution electoral reform that allows popular vote methods, and one man-one-vote.
This will help to produce competent lawmakers that are loyal and accountable to the electorates rather than accountable and loyal to the respective political party leaders.
The RPP also calls for the amendment of the electoral reform to allow the presidential and parliamentary elections so they are held on the same day.
This will help to eliminate electoral unfairness and will help to avoid the party in power influencing the outcome of the elections if they are held on separate dates.
The RPP further calls upon the law makers to repeal the law that forbids external political fundraising.
The current law disadvantages opposition political parties, that have no access to significant resources like the ruling RPF.
In addition the RPP demands the electoral commission be neutral and independent.
The Parliament should also enact electoral reforms that prevent the winning party from taking an oath, wherever an election disputes arises…[more proposals will be published in a subsequent article].
Mr John Karuranga, the author, is the President of the Rwanda People’s Party
www.rwandapeopleparty.org email@example.com Twitter @rppimvura Skype: John.Karuranga