KIGALI - The president of the Senate, Dr. Vincent Biruta, yesterday, called for open dialogue on country’s political dynamics, saying that NGOs and members of the civil society should know that they have legitimate rights to participate in the politics of the country.
He made the remarks while opening a one-day conference on Public Dialogue on Political Space and Human Rights that was attended academics, politicians, Rwandans living in the Diaspora, representatives of the civil society platform and members of the press.
During the conference, it was observed that several research findings indicated that the problem in Rwanda was not lack of political space but instead, some people did not know their rights to free speech.
Biruta, further noted that there are individuals and organizations that tend to assume that political space means criticizing everything done by government.
“A good example is in the Parliament where we have a policy of receiving all public interventions and proposals on several bills. Although the gates are always open, we don’t get many NGOs coming to make proposals on the bills,” said Biruta.
“When we talk of open dialogues, we mean accepting proposals from others. There are some organizations that tend to give orders instead of proposals, where some say ‘Government should immediately do this or that…’ that is not in line with open dialogues.”
The Minister of Local government, James Musoni noted that Rwanda is on the right track in as far as the issues of promoting political space and human rights are concerned.
“…such kind of dialogues will enable us in general to improve because we still have a long way and this is one way to achieve our targeted goals regarding promoting political space and human rights in our country.”
He asked the Rwanda Civil Society Platform, which organized the event, to always play a key role in providing accurate information to all Rwandans regarding various government programmes.
Following the opening, delegates held heated debates on a cross-section of issues including, press freedom, government policies and the establishment and operations of political parties.
One of the participants, Dr. Venuste Karambizi, urged people to always speak the truth about the events in the country.
“There is a common tendency within political opposition that their job is to always criticize whatever the government is doing. That is not true. They should always be looking at what is not right and make appropriate recommendations,” said Karambizi.
Responding to issues related to political parties in Rwanda, the Executive Secretary for the Forum for Political Parties of Rwanda (FPPR), Anicet Kayigema, said that Rwanda, currently, is one of the countries that have the simplest policy on registering a political party.
“People have a right to promote their parties from the national to the lowest level of administration,” he said.
In his closing remarks, the Minister of Internal Security Sheikh Musa Fazil Harerimana noted that nobody has ever been stopped from exercising their rights.
“People should develop a culture of speaking the truth, this conference is a very good example of the existence political space in the country, everybody spoke out their minds freely,” he said.
Several speakers at the conference proposed that open dialogues on the politics of the country should be held more often.