President Paul Kagame slammed three emerging opposition parties that plan to run against him in August elections and said they had been formed by people with contempt for Rwandans.
The three parties — Social Party Imberakuri (PS-Imberakuri) and two unregistered parties, the Democratic Green Party (DGP) and the United Democratic Forces (UDF), said in February they had formed a forum to discuss common problems.
They say they face harassment, intimidation and legal and administrative barriers to registration, and may form one party to oppose Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
Bernard Ntaganda from the PS-Imberakuri and Victoire Ingabire, head of the UDF, are being investigated for remarks which authorities, lawmakers and genocide survivors have called divisive.
“These yet to be registered political parties are just a creation of people who have contempt for us. It is up to us to decide whether we should be held in that kind of contempt,” Kagame told reporters at State House in the capital, Kigali.
“What do they represent? If Rwanda held a referendum … I don’t think Rwandans would exactly know what these people represent.”
Rights groups have criticised Rwanda for holding the elections without a meaningful opposition, but Kagame said he expected to see more divergent political opinions as the vote drew closer.
“We are not likely to have violence, destruction and killings that we have witnessed in our country in the past,” Kagame said.
“As we understand it, multi-party politics is about competition based on ideas and this will happen in an environment where people are free to express their views and be able to compete.”
Rwandan authorities are sensitive to discussion of ethnicity because the country is still recovering from the 1994 slaughter in which 800 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.
Ingabire returned to the central African nation from the Netherlands in January to start a bid for the presidency.
Genocide survivor groups and the government accuse her of using tribal rivalries and the 100-day massacre as campaign tools ahead of Augusts’ election.
Ingabire denies this and says outstanding ethnic issues must be addressed to forge true reconciliation and lasting stability.
Pic: President Paul Kagame of Rwanda