Senator Safari’s party ponders election bid

The youngest political party in the country’s political domain, the Party for Solidarity and Progress (PSP), is working around the clock to survive the anticipated political battle during the September parliamentary elections.

The youngest political party in the country’s political domain, the Party for Solidarity and Progress (PSP), is working around the clock to survive the anticipated political battle during the September parliamentary elections.

The party, led by Senator Stanley Safari, will be going into national polls for the first time, having come into existence in the aftermath of the 2003 general elections, and is aware of the huge task ahead.

One of the proposals on the table is for the party to seek a coalition with the ruling RPF, the same way four political parties struck a deal with President Paul Kagame’s political organisation during the previous parliamentary elections.

“What we know is that we shall certainly participate in the elections because we are in a democratic system,” Safari said yesterday, but added: “I don’t know how, but we will compete.”

Like leaders of several other parties, the veteran politician also did not hide the fact that his party could prefer campaigning through a coalition than facing the voters single-handedly.

“We expect to hold a congress around 15th of this month during which a final decision will be reached.”

However, a PSP insider said that the party had already decided that it does not have what it takes to contest in the next elections outside a coalition.

“Frankly we can’t stand on our own. To go into such competitive elections, you need to have money to be able to traverse all provinces to sell your manifesto to the electorate, which we don’t have now.

We are looking at doing what other parties did in 2003 (by reaching a deal with RPF to form a coalition),” the source explained on condition of anonymity because the plan is still an internal affair of the party.

PDC, PDI, PSR and UDPR were all part of an RPF-led coalition that swept 40 parliamentary seats out of a possible 53 during the previous elections, with the other seats going to the fairly strong   PSD (7) and PL (6).

At that time, PPC failed to collect the mandatory minimum of 5 percent of the total votes cast, a result that automatically locked it out.

Similarly, all the 16 independent parliamentary candidates lost out after failing to garner the minimum votes, a condition provided for in the Constitution.

It was both the fate of PPC and the independents during the country’s first-ever multiparty elections that justified why the other four parties had chosen to strike a coalition deal with RPF, whose candidate, Paul Kagame, had earlier stormed the presidential race and won a landslide of a staggering 95 percent.

Meanwhile, PDI president Musa Fazil Harerimana has added his voice to those of several other party leaders saying that a coalition possibility was something his party cannot rule out.

“Our party congress is yet to decide which way to go. But before we even get to that stage, it (the congress) will first decide whether or not we shall participate in the elections,” Harerimana, also the Minister of Internal Security, said yesterday.

“What we have committed ourselves to is to disassociate ourselves from and isolate anybody who will campaign on the ticket of genocide ideology,” the PDI chief said.

But although Harerimana said the party was yet to decide whether or not to participate in the elections, he said a mechanism had been devised to collect financial contributions from its members that will fund the party’s campaign activities.

He also said that the party was in the process of establishing its structures at the grassroots after political organisations were last year allowed to take their activities to the lowest administrative level.

Previously, political organisations had offices only at the national, provincial and district levels.

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