KIGALI - The embattled president of the Liberal Party (PL) Protais Mitali has said that he is not going to bow to escalating calls from some members to quit the party’s most prestigious seat.
Mitali is also the minister of Commerce, Industry, Investment Promotion, Tourism and Cooperation.
“Why should I throw in the towel undeservedly? I will instead do all I can to end the problems the party is facing,” he said yesterday.
He was speaking a day after some eighteen influential party members petitioned Local Government and Good Governance Minister Protais Musoni to disband PL’s new executive committee over alleged electoral irregularities.
The petitioners also want Musoni to order an independent inquiry into alleged bribery, fraud and intimidation that reportedly marred the party’s campaigns in the run-up to the August 5 elections.
They attached an earlier letter sent to Mitali, which originally bore six signatures, but this time round, with 139 signatories.
Mitali, who is accused by some members of suggesting a Frw5 million bribe to a party official to buy votes, instead claimed that those fighting him had manipulated some party members to append their signatures to the attached letter accusing him and others of corruption.
“If you have carefully checked, the names of signatories seem to have been written by one person. Some names have no signatures while others have no addresses. There are even some that are not party members,” he said in reference to one of the letters sent to Minister Musoni on Monday.
They also accuse Mitali, party’s first vice president Senator Odette Nyiramirimo and other members of bribing voters and reacting to the accusations with intimidation and dictatorship.
Mitali and Nyiramirimo beat MP Polycarpe Gatete and Theodore Simburudali respectively to clinch the seats.
Simburudali is the president of Ibuka, an umbrella organization of Genocide survivors, while Gatete is the party’s president in Kigali City.
However neither Simburudali nor Gatete have officially contested the poll results and their names have equally not appeared on any of the correspondences doing the rounds.Meanwhile, Musoni said yesterday that he was yet to receive the letter sent to him by the protesting PL members.
“It hasn’t got to my desk yet probably it’s still with the unit in charge of political organisations,” he said.
Asked whether he has capacity to disband the leadership of a political party, Musoni said: “My position is that if people have different opinions then they should use their internal party machinery to handle them in a manner that doesn’t appear to cause unease or instability in the general society.”
He added: “In the interest of general democratic environment, we would want to find out what really happened.”
PL executive committee members were due to meet yesterday at party headquarters in Kicukiro. And according to Mitali, a committee that has been probing the alleged poll irregularities was due to release its report during the meeting.
Sources said Mitali convened the meeting immediately after learning about the letter to Musoni but the party president said it had been planned earlier.
The six-man committee led by the party’s head of arbitration commission MP Emmanuel Mugabowindekwe twice failed to beat deadline.
Unconfirmed information also indicated that Mitali had also instructed the committee to make recommend tough actions against the petitioners.
“We are reliably informed that he has instructed them to dismiss the corruption claims and recommend that those raising the allegations be expelled from the party,” a source said. However, only a party’s larger forum, the National Council, can take such a decision.
Other probe committee members are Alex Mbaraga, Valence Kanimba, Odette Kagoyire, Berchmas Habinshuti and Ange Mirreille Umuhoza.
Some of the petitioners claim that the investigating team is not independent since some of the accused are the same people that established the probe committee.
“That is a case of becoming a judge and prosecutor at the same time,” a party official said on condition of anonymity.Ends