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The East African : Mar 1st 2015
8 RWANDA 2017 POLLS Unclear political roadmap could hinder investors RPF is yet to come up with an o∞cial position on Kagame’s candidatu≥e A JOINT REPORT The East African D ebate on whether Rwandans should amend the Constitution to allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term could affect the country’s economic prospects if investors decide to adopt a wait-and-see attitude. While the country has in the recent past witnessed growing calls from top members of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, politicians aligned to the ruling party and civil servants for a referendum to change the Constitution, RPF is yet to come up with an official position on the matter. Analysts warn that inves- tors could hold back their capital as they wait for a clear political roadmap. “Investors all over the world value certainty, predictability and transparency. This also applies to Rwanda,” said Mitra Farahbaksh, IMF resident representative to Rwanda, declining to comment further on the issue, arguing that the Fund’s mandate is to “focus on economic issues.” World Bank lead econo- mist and programme leader for Eritrea, Kenya and Rwanda, Apurva Sanghi, added: “One thing that has been proven many times in different contexts, is that security and political stability are important factors for investment.” However, Leonard Rugwa- biza, the chief economist in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, said, “Whatever Rwandans decide, stability will continue. At the end of the day, stability is about institutions and people. If you look at one of the [unspecified] World Bank reports on political stability, you find that Rwanda is ranked as more politically stable than China and India,” A resurgent Rwandan econ- omy — which expanded by 7.1 per cent last year according to the World Bank — as well EASY WIN? SELLING POINTS: A resurgent Rwandan economy — which expanded by 7.1 per cent last year according to the World Bank — as well as reconciliation after the 1994 genocide are seen as major selling points for President Kagame should he bid for a third term in office. COMPETITION: Opposition within and outside the country remains weak and disunited. The EastAfrican NEWS FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 6, 2015 Bu≥undi vote≥s ≥ebu≠ attempt at thi≥d te≥m By TREVOR ANALO The EastAfrican AMID POLITICAL tensions in Burundi over a bid to give President Pierre Nkurunzinza a controversial third term in office, a new poll shows a solid majority of voters favours presidential term limits. The president’s support- ers are trying to bypass a clause in the Constitution that limits him to two consecutive five-year terms in order to extend his rule after 10 years in power. According to the Afroba- romete survey, 62 per cent of voters nationwide say the president should be limited to only two terms while only 37 per cent want term limits done away with. Last year, a Bill to intro- The Gakinjiro area in Gasabo district, Kigali. Investors may wait for political certainty before investing in projects. Pic: Cyril Ndegeya as reconciliation after the 1994 genocide are seen as major selling points for President Kagame should he bid for a third term in office. Political analysts say the ruling party is likely have an easy ride in the 2017 general elections as opposition within and outside the country remains weak and disunited. A report released by Am- nesty International last week, which has been dismissed as baseless by Kigali, says that political opposition continue to face serious hurdles, with those operating within the country facing administrative obstacles. “The few permitted opposi- tion parties faced a repressive environment. Legal procedures for establishing political parties remained lengthy and time-consuming,” the report says. The rights watchdog raised concerns over a missing member of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), Jean Damascène Munyeshyaka, who was last seen in June 27, 2014 in Nyamata, Bugesera district, as one of the worrying cases. “The DGPR alleged that prior to his disappearance he received a telephone call from an individual requesting that they meet immediately. The DGPR had reported administrative obstacles in registering and state surveillance, harassment and intimidation because of their political activities,” Amnesty International says. By John Gahamanyi and Edmund Kagire duce a third term failed to sail through parliament after CNDD-FDD’s junior coalition partner boycotted the vote. The ruling party, which holds 81 out of 106 seats in parliament, fell one vote short of the 85 required to pass the amendment. A similar poll by the same agency in 2012 showed the president fast losing public support, with 51 per cent of respondents preferring term limits against 46 per cent. “The larger new major- ity may indicate that, as the country approaches elections, and in response to public debate on the issue, the number of people opposed to a third presidential term is increasing,” says the 62 pc By EDMUND KAGIRE The EastAfrican THE HIGH COURT in Kigali on Friday evening sentenced popular Rwandan musician Kizito Mihigo to 10 years in prison after he was found guilty of conspiracy to murder or harm President Paul Kagame and other top leaders of the country. The 33-year-old singer, who is a genocide survivor, was also convicted of complicity to overthrow the government and conspiracy to form alliances with negative groups to destabilise the country. His co-accused, radio journalist Cassien Ntamuhanga, was handed 25 years while retired soldier Jean Paul Dukuzumuremyi got 30 years. The fourth defendant, Agnes Nyibizi, was acquitted. Reading the lengthy verdict, the judge said that Mihigo was given a lenient sentence because he pleaded guilty from the outset and made the court’s work easy. Mihigo appeared subdued and bowed to the bench in an apparent sign of agreement with the ver- Afrobarometer report. The president may not have declared his intentions but he has left no doubt that he intends to push his candidacy in the elections slated for mid this year. A brief from IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review says President Nkurunzinza is likely to vie for the top seat despite strong local and international opposition. Presidential spokesper- son Willy Nyamitwe gave the clearest sign yet that the president will be on the ballot in a recent interview. The US special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Russell Feingold, said prolonging the president’s stay in office could threaten the country’s stability. In January, a coalition of 300 civil society groups said a third term bid will push the country into violence. “Leading opposition par- ties are likely to respond to Nkurunziza’s reported plans by boycotting the elections, with their supporters likely to take to the streets, raising the risk of collateral damage to commercial assets and death and injury,” IHS Jane’s Intelligence Review said. Third-term opponents Burundi voters in favour of a two-term presidential limit argue that the Constitution allows the leader only two terms but the president’s men say he was only elected once through universal suffrage, in 2010 when the post-conflict period ended. They argue that he has therefore only served one term and that the indirect election in 2005 by the country’s parliament in accordance with the Arusha Accords — a peace deal that ended the 13-year civil war — should not be counted. Singe≥ Kizito jailed fo≥ 10 yea≥s dict but Ntamuhanga and Dukuzumuremyi protested the lengthy sentences. “This is ridiculous and a mockery of jus- tice but the truth will come out,” a defiant Ntamuhanga said as he was bundled onto a Rwanda Correctional Service pick-up truck. “I am not satisfied and I am ready to appeal.” The four were arrested in April last year and charged with four terrorism-related crimes. The six-month trial that followed was however marred by claims of torture and forced confessions by Mr Dukuzumuremyi, who denied all the charges and claimed that they were fabricated by security organs. Mihigo was cleared of terrorism charges. For his close links to the government and the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front party and his involvement in unity and reconciliation programmes, his arrest was a shocker as he was viewed as the blue-eyed boy of the state. In the course of the trial, he dismissed his defence after it attempted to maintain a guilty plea. He then confessed to all the crimes he was accused of committing.
Feb 23rd 2015
Mar 9th 2015