Inside Dr. Frank Habineza: A Glimpse into Rwanda’s Political Landscape Ahead of Presidential Elections
By DUSABEMUNGU Ange de la Victoire
Dr. Frank Habineza, the President of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, who will also be running for the presidency in the upcoming presidential elections in Rwanda, has stated that the political environment in Rwanda has improved significantly. He referred to the struggles the party went through during its initial stages.
Dr. Frank made these remarks while speaking to the media shortly after the Party’s National Congress, during which he was re-elected as the Party’s President and also chosen as its presidential candidate in the upcoming elections.
He said that for the last1 3 years, it has been very difficult to remember that when the party first started, they were beaten in their first congress and their meetings were violently disrupted.
“People even had guns. It was very, very difficult. People were put in prison. Myself, I had to go to exile in Sweden for two years. My vice president, Andrew Kagawa, may he rest in peace, was decapitated. A lot of bad things happened in 2009 and 2010.” He said.
“But when you look forward, after when the party was registered, we’ve been seeing some tremendous progress, some changes, some tolerance from the government, tolerating other voices.” He added.
“So, we continued the campaign for democracy, and I would say that if you look at it, there has been progress. We no longer have as many journalists in prison as before, and we are not witnessing journalists being forced into exile due to persecution. Therefore, this has reduced, and some changes have been made,” said Dr. Frank.
He also commended the establishment of Media Law and the establishment of the Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) and others.
“So there’s some progress, even in political space, because it goes with media as well. We see that we are able to go into campaigns such as presidential campaigns. There’s been so many problems, if you remember, in the presidential campaigns. But when we went to the parliamentary elections, we faced problems, but we managed to win some seats, which made a big significant change. That our voice was now on the table, and we could push for changes, and the government would accept our voice, and the changes we asked for, the government accepted.” Dr. Frank explained.
“So this is a big thing, as I have said, in Rwanda, that at least over 70% of key issues in our manifesto, as I related them, have been achieved. So that’s a big sign, really, that the government is listening. So it’s a change. It’s not 100% just because we’re struggling for democracy. We still want to have more. We still want to have more space, we still want to have more freedom, we still want to have more democracy, people to be free. So we’re still struggling, but at least we have hope, because it’s good progress.” He added.
During the Green Party’s National Congress that took place on Saturday, May 13, 2023, Dr. Frank Habineza was chosen as the flag bearer in the upcoming Presidential elections that will be coincided with the Parliamentary elections.
He revealed that the main topics that he will bring in the centre of the campaign during those elections include “the continuous struggle for democracy, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Because these are issues that we still need to have in Rwanda where people will be free to express their views without fear. Where journalists will be free to express their views.”
Regarding the journalists, Dr. Frank insisted that the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda want the media to be able to have more financial resources.
“We have previously asked for the establishment of a media development fund. We will continue doing that.”He said.
“We also want the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency to function as a public broadcaster, free from commercial competition. Private media can compete for advertisements, while TV Rwanda and Radio Rwanda should be given adequate budgets so they do not need to engage in commercial activities.” He explained that this will help the private media to develop.
Media were invited at the Democratic Green Party National Congress which took place on Saturday, in Kigali. Apart from the media, also several representatives from other political parties including the ruling Party-RPF were present.
“We think that if the media has enough financial resources, they will be able to function much better. And they will be able to increase their freedom of expression.” Dr. Frank said.
In the field of agriculture, the party will advocate for the promotion of sustainable practices that are environmentally friendly and produce healthy food that does not cause cancer and other diseases.
“We want an agronomist at the sector level who will help the citizens to do proper agricultural practices. But also in food safety. To eat food which will not cause us diseases. We are campaigning against the use of artificial fertilizers. We want to use more organic manure wherever possible. And less pesticides. I think government can devise means to do that. Because we have discovered with scientific data that use of pesticides and fertilizers cause cancer and other diseases. Like blood pressure and so on.” Frank said.
In the medical sector, the party seeks to make sure that the medical personnel get more salary. The doctors, consultant specialists, nurses and other services so that they can perform better in the health services.
“So it’s a big program we are having. But we shall unveil our manifesto soon.” He said.
Dr.Frank Habineza has been elected again as the party president of the democratic green party of Rwanda , Mrs Maombi Carine has been elected as the vice president,Mr Jean Claude Ntezimana is the the secretary general elected, Icyizanye Masozera as the National Treasurer
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