KIGALI - The Presidential candidate for the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, yesterday dismissed claims by a group calling itself the Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties in Rwanda, that he is a ‘stooge candidate’, saying that they have no credibility.
In an interview with The New Times, Ntawukuriryayo rubbished the statement by the group that is made up the Green Party of Rwanda, FDU-Inkingi (both unregistered) and PS-Imberakuri titled “RPF-PSD Marriage-Ghost opposition, stooge candidate”,
He challenged them to show Rwandans what they have rather than engaging in rhetoric.
“I don’t know them and I don’t know what they are talking about. PSD is 19 years old and we are an opposition party that has positively contributed to the reconstruction of this country, we have been working with Rwandans.
“We have a party manifesto and an action plan. We have members countrywide who recently held a party congress and nominated a candidate. What else do they want? Perhaps they don’t know what an opposition party is,” Ntawukuriryayo said.
Ntawukuriryayo, who is also the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, added that it is sad that some people who call themselves opposition leaders want to drag Rwandans back into the past under the guise of being in the ‘opposition’, adding that PSD will not associate itself with such individuals.
“Our members have been working hard and sacrificing and putting their energy and money towards the development of the party and the country. People know us as a party for 19 years. I don’t think anybody has the credibility to challenge our stand,” Ntawukuriryayo said.
He added that PSD has been around for a long time and has been advocating for development and co-existence of all Rwandans.
“Where were they 19 years ago when we were advocating for all Rwandans to return to their country? Were we under RPF as they claim? Where were they in 2003 and 2008?” Ntawukuriryayo wondered.
He downplayed claims that the party would declare its alliance to the RPF shortly before the August 9 vote, arguing that no one has the right to determine what the party wants apart from its members.
The Presidential aspirant accused the group of disregarding the political maturity and concentrating on selling the country’s image negatively claiming lack of political space.
“Which space are they talking about? Am I not an independent person? Don’t I say what I want whenever and wherever? Don’t you do so as a Rwandan? I think even there being there and saying whatever they want is political space itself,” Ntawukuriryayo pondered.
He added that the party has matured to the extent that it took part in the 2003 and 2008 elections and today it is able to field a presidential candidate, challenging the parties to also pursue the same route.