The spokesperson of the Forum for Political Parties, Musa Fazil Harelimana, yesterday dismissed reports that the forum pursues the interests of a particular political party neglecting other ‘smaller’ parties.
The Internal Security Minister was responding to questions raised by journalists who claimed that some new political parties do not have representatives on the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Harelimana, who hails from the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), said that the forum was constitutionally established to bring members of different political parties together to discuss issues of national interest, and not the interests of their respective political organisations.
Giving an example of how US President Barrack Obama appointed Robert Gates from a different political party to continue as the country’s Defence Secretary, Harelimana, explained that NEC commissioners are appointed on merit and not because they are representatives of political parties.
“I’m wondering how a country with eighty political parties will form an electoral commission of eighty commissioners.”
“This has not worked anywhere in the world, an electoral commission is all about having competent persons who, before assuming their duties, take an oath to serve their country not their political parties,” the Minister said.
He added that once a political party emerges victorious in a presidential election, both the victor and the loser are brought together to jointly participate in nation building.
“A NEC commissioner might be from RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front), but what matters is his competence to serve the nation and whether he or she is performing as expected,” Harelimana said.
The Forum’s Executive Secretary, Anicet Kayigema, had earlier said that at the beginning of their operations, the forum faced challenges of people whose mindset was that it was established to advance government’s interests.
“People thought it was there to muzzle political parties and making them fail to perform, but with more explanations, this attitude has changed,” Kayigema said.
He added that the forum still faces some financial constraints, leading to some activities failing to be carried out.
The Forum is a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas among political organisations on the country’s challenges and national policies.
It is also a permanent framework for capacity building for member political organizations, the same platform used in mediating conflict that may arise in case there is a misunderstanding between each other.