KIGALI - Wrangling within the Liberal Party (PL) has reached unprecedented levels. Members contesting the August 5 party election yesterday petitioned the Minister for Local Government, Good Governance and Social Welfaire, Protais Musoni, requesting him to dissolve the new party leadership.
The members also want Musoni to order an independent inquiry into the allegations of bribery, fraud and intimidation that allegedly characterized the elections, which saw Commerce Minister Protais Mitali clinch party presidency.
The three-page letter signed by eighteen members including a member of the party’s executive committee accuses Mitali and others of bribing voters and reacting to the allegations with intimidation and dictatorship.
“The Party President does not consider corruption a problem but rather accuses whistleblowers of being in the wrong and describes them as enemies of the party and likened their operations to those of (the defunct Hutu extremist ) MDR Parmehutu. That manifests how he has planted divisionism within the party,” it reads in part.
They question the independence of the party’s committee investigating the allegations, saying it was set up by the accused, and that some of its members are themselves cited in election irregularities.
The letter was copied to Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara and the head of the Forum for Political Party Organisations, Francois Ngarambe.
Local Government ministry oversees political organizations.
Attached to the letter is a copy of the August 10 letter to Mitali which contained the first official allegations against the Commerce minister and some other members of the party’s executive committee.
The attached letter, which was earlier contested by Mitali and group prompting the ongoing party investigations, carries signatures of 139 party members from various parts of the country. Initially, this particular letter had five signatories, but it also indicated that there were other people who appended their signatures.
Senior proponents of the accusations include MP Elie Ngirabakunzi (also party treasurer), MP Isaie Murashi, PL First Vice President in charge of the Southern Province Dr Laurien Nyabyenda, First Vice President for Eastern Province Emmanuel Uwimana and party chairman in Kicukiro District, Emmanuel Musabyimana.
In the letter to Musoni, the claimants also assert that Mitali and PL First Vice President Senator Dr Odette Nyiramirimo are both accused of using party finances during campaigns.
“By assisting the party to get out of these problems would serve the nation good. Our request is for the ministry you lead together with other responsible organs to establish independent investigations into bribes that were giving within PL.
Such cannot be done when those accused of corruption are the ones leading the inquiry,” the letter to Minister Musoni states.
Meanwhile, the party probe committee chaired by MP Emmanuel Mugabowindekwe has twice postponed the date on which to release its report.
The probe team is composed of members the party’s arbitration and evaluation committees. Others are Alex Mbaraga, Valence Kanimba, Odette Kagoyire, Berchmas Habinshuti and Ange Mirreille Umuhoza.
Mbaraga is himself accused by some party members of election irregularities.
Mitali is accused of having attempted to give a bribe of Frw5 million to one Emmanuel Uwimana through businessman Janvier Burahangwa to buy voters.
Mitali trounced MP Polycarpe Gatete to win the hotly contested party top seat, while Nyiramirimo
beat the president of Ibuka, a Genocide survivor umbrella organization, Theodore Simbuludali.
Mitali could not be reached by press time but he has previously refuted all allegations leveled against him and other party leaders.
Sources said that the petitioners had wanted to write to Musoni on August 26 (the same date appearing on the letter) but that they were delayed by calls for reconciliation between them and Mitali camp.
“We held two meetings on August 27 and on Saturday, September 1.
Both meetings were chaired by Mitali himself at Alpha Palace Hotel. However, there were disagreements when the minister out rightly rejected the allegations insisting that the accusers retract their accusations and apologise,” a source said. It is after the Saturday meeting that a section of party members decided to take the matter to the Local Government minister, the source added.
Asked why their report had twice been postponed, Mugabowindekwe said yesterday that his team was yet to complete the job.The report was initially due to be released last Wednesday before it had been rescheduled for last Friday. Mugabowindekwe, however, said it could be released today.Ends