It is now one month since wrangles broke out within the Liberal Party after its most recent election. Top party officials turned guns against each other, throwing allegations of bribery and voter intimidation, and even rigging the hotly contested seats of party president and first vice president.
New party chief Commerce Minister Protais Mitali and his immediate deputy, Senator Dr. Odette Nyiramirimo, have been singled out as those who have bought their way in.
Now, the lawmakers, along with two other politicians, have been suspended from the party’s seats.
Challenging election results and making allegations of foul play is nothing new. It is a norm on our continent that losers will always blame the victors for their underperformances, justified or not.
However, in this case, it is not losers challenging the polls.
One contestant, MP Elie Ngirabakunzi, is also the party’s treasurer.
The party’s response to this particular paradox in the crisis is troublesome.
Whereas it was a commendable move not to ignore the accusations altogether, for the very accused people to instruct and oversee investigatory probe against themselves is both contradictory and corrupt in that no official must be above law and order.
It would have been better if the party had considered engaging independent investigators to look into the matter. By so doing, it could have rebuilt confidence among the accusers, party members and the general public.
Because the allegations are so wide-ranging and of serious concern, it is a matter demanding credible oversight. Who can believe such asymmetric influence on any matter, from any party?
What is needed is a mediator between the conflicting sides to avoid a poor precedence for party politics, still young in Rwanda.
Mediation efforts could be facilitated by the Consultative Forum of Political Parties, or any other neutral organ.
It is not too late for PL members to sit together and iron out issues in the interest of the greater good.
That said, the party’s internal governance and the general laws in the country should be fully harmonised so those found guilty be held responsible for their crimes.