Members of LIPRODHOR, a local rights organization, on Saturday failed to elect a new team as the assembly turned rowdy in the evening when members suspected intentions to rig the vote.
Held in Kigali, the general assembly that started two hours late, at about 11:20, had just elected Aime Bernabe Muyizere and Bodouin Kayumba as president and vice president, respectively, when all hell broke loose and the police had to to intervene.
Members could not contain their irritation when, during the search of a Secretary, the number of votes, 97 was higher than the of 89 members present.
Members who talked to The New Times, on condition of anonymity, said the commotion was partly because some members of the outgoing committee did not want Kayumba to be part of the new team as he is thought to be open and would dig into the real cause of the organisation’s financial woes.
The current LIPRODHOR Executive Committee’s two-year mandate expired in July.
The rights group is also troubled by internal wrangles and debts above Rwf150 million.
Muyizere did not refute members’ allegations and told The New Times that it was apparent from the onset current leaders had made deliberate plans to stay in power.
Muyizere said: “What has happened now puts our organization in a dire situation. I can’t tell when or how the next election will be held. Our organization, in the meantime, remains with a serious leadership vacuum.”
Earlier, during the beginning of the meeting, as members discussed issues including how best to get out of their unwanted debt situation, outgoing LIPRODHOR President, Aloys Munyangaju, acknowledged that their very bad financial situation which he had also inherited went as far back as 2008.
The assembly heard that, among others, the organization owes more than Rwf71 million to employees, Rwf45 million to the Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), and more than Rwf11 million to the Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB), among others.
It is unclear when the next assembly will be held or whether Muyizere and Kayumba’s votes will be annulled and the election called afresh.
Shortly after he won the poll for president, a happy Muyizere told The New Times that he would strive to see to it that the organisation’s problems – including internal wrangles and financial woes – would end.
“The organization’s assests has been mostly hinged on support from foreigners, and because of the conflict among members, external donors gradually stepped back. What we are now going to do, after uniting the members, is that we shall reach out to donors, especially those who left, but also find our own resources,” Muyizere said, noting that foreign embassies and international NGOs are some of the donors who had turned their backs on the group.
“I cannot support the idea of being used by donors for their interests. I am Rwandan and know the interests of Rwandans. Our organization can work with any other foreign organization but only if that organization also minds the interests of Rwandans.”
Before the meeting was ended with the chaotic turn of events, members had agreed to set up a team to examine how best to deal with the organization’s staggering debts and report back in not more than three months with viable solutions.
Earlier, Aloys Munyangaju, the outgoing president had urged members to seriously consider electing a team that would put the interests of Rwandans ahead.