PSD candidate disqualified

KIGALI - Faustin Nzabonimpa, a Parliamentary candidate from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has been disqualified from the 2008 Parliamentary race by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) due to his alleged complicity in the 1994 Genocide.
CONFIRMED: PSD Secretary General, Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo.
CONFIRMED: PSD Secretary General, Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo.

KIGALI - Faustin Nzabonimpa, a Parliamentary candidate from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) has been disqualified from the 2008 Parliamentary race by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) due to his alleged complicity in the 1994 Genocide.

A detailed two-page hand written report from the Genocide survivors umbrella association IBUKA, indicates that Nzabonimpa is accused of having been involved in looting, attacks and massacres that took place in Cyuve sector in the Northern Province, during the 1994 Rwanda Genocide.

Nzabonimpa, however, told The New Times that he had not received any written letter disqualifying him from the parliamentary race though he admitted that he had stopped his campaigns.

He said that he only heard of the development from the news on Radio Rwanda but was quick to hang up his cell phone when asked to confirm the allegations of his complicity in the 1994 Tutsi Genocide.

The New Times went ahead and inquired from the prosecution how Nzabonimpa’s criminal record wascleared in order for to be listed as a parliamentary candidate.

Augustine Nkusi, the Spokesman of the Prosecutor General’s office revealed that Nzabonimpa gave wrong identifications when applying for the criminal record form.

“It is possible that someone could be given a good criminal record when he/she gives wrong identifications to the Prosecutor General’s office,” Nkusi said yesterday.

The law stipulates that anyone who serves a prison sentence of more than six months is prohibited from participating in parliamentary elections unless such a person has got a rehabilitation letter from the Ministry of Justice.

Efforts to have comments from PSD party president Vicent Biruta were futile as his cell phone was not available by the time this story story.

However party Vice President, Marc Rugenera, during a party rally in Musanze Sector, publicly announced that one of their candidates, Faustin Nzabonimpa, had been disqualified.

PSD Secretary General Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo told The New Times that the party listed Nzabonimpa among the party’s candidates following clean criminal records from the Prosecutor General’s office.

He added that his party accepted the order from NEC which assessed that their candidate did not qualify to stand for the parliamentary elections.

“Justice is one of our focal point, it must be followed. They told us that one of our candidates had a bad criminal record though they had prior assessed him and approved him as a qualified parliamentary candidate from our party but if justice has discovered that he does not qualify then we have to abide by it,” Ntawukuriryayo said on phone yesterday.

The IBUKA report indicated that in 1995, Nzabonimpa served one year in prison for allegedly being part of a group that killed Dani Bizimana in Cyuve sector where he was a Councilor.

“Bizimana died in Cyuve sector in an attack Nzabonimpa participated in, and in 1996 was released without trial before the Gacaca courts had started. Those who followed the case closely allege that Nzabonimpa could have bribed to be released because those who were arrested with him are still in custody,” the report, translated from Kinyarwanda, continues.

Born in Cyuve sector, Nzabonimpa lives in Muhoza District and is the chairman of the PSD party in Musanze District. He is a businessman and owns a small Hotel in Ruhengeri town, Musanze District. Early this month electorates from Musanze District pressurized Nzabonimpa to withdraw his candidature.

The electorates complained that Nzabonimpa who was number 9 on his Party’s list of candidates was not a credible candidate having been convicted of genocide crimes by Gacaca courts.

Nzabonimpa was first sentenced by a Gacaca court in Cyuve, Musanze district to five year’s jail for allegedly looting property belonging to Claver Nzitabimfura who was his neighbor and attacking the family of Dany Nsengiyunva during the Genocide.

He served more than six months in Ruhengeri central prison before seeking the intervention of the National Jurisdiction of Gacaca courts for retrial.

During the retrial, court upheld the guilty verdict and sentenced him to 26 years. However, he appealed again and was later acquitted of the charges.

Nzabonimpa reportedly denied having been convicted saying he was innocent despite having been imprisoned.

Efforts to seek comments from the National Electoral Commission were futile as the officials were apparently in a meeting the whole day.

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