It was good news on one side and very bad on the other, but it was not unexpected.
If sports Minister Joseph Habineza decided to dissolve the National Olympic Committee executive committee there is precious little we can do about it other than hope the International Olympic Committee won’t suspend the country for ‘political interference’.
We’ve already had cases where IOC has suspended NOCs because governments in those respective countries had dissolved the local Olympic Committee, and now here we’re embroiled in a similar state of affairs.
In June last year, the International Olympic Committee suspended Iraq’s national Olympic Committee because of government interference.
The Gulf nation was suspended after the Iraqi government dissolved of the national body. In defence of their decision [to suspend Iraq], the IOC said that the government’s act was a clear violation of the Iraqi Olympic Committee’s autonomy.
The world governing body refused to recognize Iraq’s interim Olympic committee, which was supervised by the Iraqi sports ministry.
Also in their defence, the Iraqi government said the Olympic committee was dissolved because it did not have enough members for a quorum and elections had not been held in five years. In Rwanda, it’s only a year.
Again, this year, the Executive Board of the IOC suspended the National Olympic Committee of Kuwait, which should provide Rwanda a warning about the dangers of government interference in sports.
In suspending the Kuwait NOC, the International Olympic Committee stated that the suspension would give public authorities responsible for sport in Kuwait time “to amend a national sports law that is not compatible with the principles and rules of the Olympic Movement.”
However, Rwanda’s situation is a different one, and one that probably has its own ‘hidden’ agendas than meets the eyes, but that’s not the agenda for this article.
What this article wants to point out is the consequences of the minister’s decision to dissolve Ignace Beraho’s led executive committee.
In justifying his decision, Minister Habineza is likely to point to the fact that Beraho’s mandate had expired almost a year ago and that he was occupying the NOC office ‘illegally’ but his critics will wonder why he waited all this long before coming up with that decision.
A year is too long for one to hold his patience, actually if the minister was so concerned about the matters of RNOC, why didn’t he dissolve Beraho’s executive committee soon after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games or push for immediate elections than waiting all this long?
IOC’s Rule 28.9 of the Olympic Charter states that “the IOC Executive Board may take any appropriate decisions for the protection of the Olympic Movement in the country of an NOC, including suspension of or withdrawal of recognition from such NOC if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any governmental or other body causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered.”
The IOC further notes that “The Olympic Charter states that NOCs must preserve their autonomy and resist pressure of any kind — including, but not limited to, political, legal, religious or economic pressures — which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic Charter.”
However, the Rwanda National Olympic Committee constitution is not very clear, and sometime back Beraho was saying that nowhere is written in the IOC Charter that NOC Executive Committees must stay in office for two terms, and instead it was him who came up with the idea of term limit in Rwanda’s case.
Therefore, not to sound as though I’m defending or sympathizing with Beraho and his cohorts because that’s the last thing I could contemplate, I believe the minister could have held his patience until the Election Day on December 27.
To take the decision he did, will be looked by some people as political interference, something that we could have done without after all the man he hates only had two months to leave peacefully!