Speaker of Parliament Donatille Mukabalisa was Sunday elected the new president of the Liberal Party (PL), replacing former cabinet minister and Rwandan envoy to Ethiopia Protais Mitali, who is wanted over misappropriation of party finances.
Mukabalisa was elected during PL congress in Kacyiru, Kigali, on a day the party celebrated its silver jubilee.
Mitali fled after a case was brought up against him accusing him of diverting the party’s resources last year, and was later expelled from the party.
Mukabalisa has been acting president since Mitali, who is the country’s immediate former ambassador to Ethiopia, went into hiding in April last year after he was summoned to account for missing party finances.
Mitali had only served one year into his second term.
During Sunday’s poll, Mukabalisa, 56, stood unopposed garnering a whopping 569 votes out of 577. She had been fronted by MP Francois Byabarumwanzi, the party’s vice-president.
During an interview with The New Times yesterday, Mukabalisa castigated the past regimes, which she accused of stifling liberties and rights of Rwandans whereby people were denied access to education and jobs, while others were given undue privileges.
Such practices, she said, could not allow the country to develop.
She said the human rights abuses and divisionism exacerbated when people were further deprived of their basic rights, including a right to life, culminating into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
More than a million people were killed during the Genocide.
“As a party that is operating in a country whose leadership we appreciate, we have to sensitise our members to support development programmes and seek self-reliance in all aspects of life,” she said.
“We will strive to help bridge the gap between the imports and exports to narrow the trade deficit. We will advocate for value addition in the case of our exports to ensure they are more competitive on the international market and we think we shall ably complement the ongoing effort in this area,” she added.
The election of Mukabalisa to the position of party president saw the first vice-president position fall vacant which prompted MP Theogene Munyangeyo to stand – unopposed – to win it with 472 votes.
Munyangeyo was previously the party chairperson in the City of Kigali.
On April 29, 2015, PL indefinitely expelled Mitali after the latter reportedly fled to Europe when his party demanded that he pays back some Rwf63 million he reportedly embezzled.