Rwanda’s Opposition Party Appeals To Kagame
After miserably losing a court battle to block a bill that will allow amendment of theÂ constitution, Rwanda’s Democratic Green Party (DGPR) is now seeking President PaulÂ Kagame’s intervention.
It’s the last resort, they believe. “I believe as this does not put him above the law and it’sÂ part of the constitution for us to appeal to the president who is listed as the protector of theÂ constitution to avoid the abuse of the constitution,” the President of DGPR, FrankÂ Habineza has exclusively told News of Rwanda.
Habineza’s move comes after the Supreme Court on October 8, tramped his controversialÂ court case suing the government against the amendment.
Four days later, 96% of MPs voted in favour of a bill seeking to amend the currentÂ constitution.
Among the amendments, is article 101 limiting an incumbent to only two 7-years terms.Â Four million Rwandans signed a petition demanding that the article be scraped or revised.Â Once approved, Rwandans will go to a ballot and vote.
The DGPR says it will contest and fight this referendum tooth and nail. And they are, atÂ least publically, the only party contesting.
â€œAs promised, we submitted our request to His Excellence the President of RwandaÂ regarding the non-lifting of term limits,â€ Habineza said.
DGPR says they are equipped with a provision in article 98 of the constitution that obligesÂ the president to solely protector he constitution.
Article 98 of the constitution states that the President is the, “guardian of the ConstitutionÂ and guarantees national unity. He or she guarantees the continuity of the State, theÂ independence and territorial integrity of the country and respect of international treatiesÂ and agreementsâ€
However, Chief Justice, Prof. Sam Rugege has poked holes in Habeineza’s argument. InÂ the highly anticipated ruling, he told DGPR that, â€œamendment of the constitution is notÂ against democratic principles, contrary to the complainantâ€™s allegation.â€
Ironically though, Habineza does not say much about other amendments such as aÂ proposal to increase women representation from 30% to 50%. He has placed all his eggsÂ against the presidential term limits.
His fear, understandably, is the fact that President Kagame enjoys mass popularity acrossÂ the country, also considering the fact that the constitutional amendment was forced intoÂ parliament by the public.
Once voted as proposed therefore, Kagame has almost 100% margin of winning againstÂ any candidate, only if he accepts to run. Rwandans say Kagame has given them peace,Â security and prosperity and thus should stay, but he has on several times insisted he willÂ not be forced to run. He has placed demands and conditions as well.
In fact, he has said he believes the constitution should not be amended unless he isÂ convinced â€œbeyond reasonable doubtâ€ why people need him to re-run.
The Green Party is now ridding on his views. Habineza is optimistic that Kagame will listenÂ to his appeal, referring to a number of times when the President publically stated that ifÂ given an option he would not run for another term.
“The president has on countless times stated that he does not want to run for a third termÂ and he is on record for this,” Habineza told News of Rwanda.
But the irony in Habineza’s approach is defined by the refusal to back off after both theÂ legislature and the judiciary trashed his contestation. Appealing to the executive is nowÂ seen as â€œthe horse’s last kicksâ€.
Indeed President Kagame has always been in support of DGPR’s moves from day one,Â especially when he said their lawsuit was â€œexercising their constitutional rightâ€.
This time around, what will come out the apparent ‘appeal’, no one knows, because evenÂ Habineza himself has not announced what was entailed in the appeal. He told News ofÂ Rwanda late last night that, â€œNo more details will be shared.â€