Fellow Rwandans, as we officially commemorate the fifth anniversary of the founding of the Rwanda People’s Party (RPP), we are also continuing the campaign for progressive economic and social policies. Our Party continues to work diligently, and comprehensively to encourage political changes that are in the best interest of our people and our country. Currently, the Party continues to expand our presence in Rwanda, and we are planning to return and register as a political party in Rwanda. We are also hopping to implement plans to begin a broadcast radio service that will provide informative education regarding how Rwandans and our friends and supports can affect peaceful, democratic change in our government once our party becomes a full participant of the Rwanda’s political party system. We are continuing our efforts to participate in the Rwandan political system and to be a modern, responsible, dedicated force for civic change and real social progress. The Rwanda People’s Party mission, at its core, is a commitment to strive for a better future for all Rwandans. We are determined as ever, to forge a Rwanda where people feel “a deep sense of national pride”.
Our Vision of the Future For Rwanda
Fellow Rwandans, the RPP is the only party offering national reconciliation. We believe that only with genuine national reconciliation among the Rwandan people can we build a better Rwanda; a country where we can live alongside one another - in peace and prosperity. Only with the participations of all Rwandans can we form a new social reality based on the foundation of people’s rights, self-determination and the shared values of all Rwandans - one nation and one people, rather than the tired and destructive labels of the past that have caused our country and every Rwandan so much sorrow and pain. The RPP believes that, we must do everything in our power to ensure that we leave the ethnic hatred, divisions, conflict and genocide behind us - forever. We also believe that only by achieving national reconciliation can we move on from the past. It is only then that we can together ensure that Rwanda fulfills its destiny and guarantee that Rwanda becomes a peaceful and prosperous member of the world’s family of nations. It is past time for our success, and it is past time for excuses and compromises on these important issues. Thus, the RPP is determined as ever, and we invite you to join with us, to redouble our collective efforts, and to forge this Rwanda of the future, today.
We are a democratic party, and thus we believe in dialogue. Our commitment to dialogue and democratic transformation, however, does not mean that concessions will be made to groups or individuals accused of crimes against humanity and genocide and who preach ethnic hatred. We believe peace talks with these groups and individuals would be non-productive and would not offer a solution to the problems facing Rwanda and such compromises will certainly hurt future efforts at national reconciliation.
Our Specific Views On Issues Key to Rwanda.
The RPP calls on all the 85,000 remaining Rwandan refugees to return home and join their countrymen in rebuilding our homeland. The RPP pledges to continue working towards the peaceful return of all Rwandan refugees. The RPP also appeals once again to the FDLR, to lay down their arms and return home, to engage in the democratic political process. We also call upon the FDLR to stop using Rwandan refugees as human shields. Rwandan refugees that want to return home, must have the liberty to do so. This is crucial to the welfare of these innocent Rwandans who have been used as political pawns by leaders of the FDLR, many of whom were likely involved in Rwandan genocide against Tutsi. There is no doubt that the return of all of the Rwandan refugees, will help to speed up democratic changes in Rwanda.
Rwanda is small in size but large enough to accommodate the over 35 million Rwandans living in neighboring countries and beyond, and thus our people should feel free and welcome to return home. This is why the RPP (formerly the Rwanda National Liberation Movement (RNLM)) has been advocating and championing the return of all Rwandan refugees since 1983.
The RPP believes that in several significant ways our country is moving in the right direction. There have been real and significant changes in the recent years that can’t just be dismissed. However, there still also remain many obstacles and Rwandans continue to die in unexplainable and mysterious circumstances. The political elite still act as if they are above the law and continue the fraudulent posture of acting with impunity. Furthermore there is no real political opposition in Rwanda. Every genuinely democratic society needs a political opposition. The RPP will continue to peacefully campaign for more accountability from the political elite and the formation of an effective but responsible opposition. These are essential if Rwanda is to have a proper, functioning democracy.
Typical of the abuse of power by some members of the political elite are 7,500 Rwandan that are still in prison many years after they have lawfully finished their prison sentence. This is another tragic error of our country, and blemish on any serious record for social justice and progress. Equally, it is unacceptable to keep someone in prison without a file - the so called ‘lodgers’. It is our strong conviction, that this illicit practice is morally wrong and we call upon the Rwandan government to immediately provide us with explanations as to why these innocent people are being forced – even in this modern time - to endure severe pain and continued humiliation. We also call upon the Rwanda government to immediately release these people and support their integration back into the community and to offer just compensation to these people for their illegal detention.
Fellow Rwandans, our country also faces a crucial decision on whether or not to lift the limit on presidential terms, to enable President Paul Kagame to extend his presidency beyond that allowed by the Rwandan constitution. We believe that Mr. Kagame is a law abiding person, a man who loves his country and people, a man who would do everything to protect and to preserve the dignity of the Rwandan constitution, and a person who would never do anything that could stain his reputation and harm Rwanda as a nation. We also believe this question on how to handle the Presidential term issue critical to Kagame’s legacy and the progress of our country. Thus, based on the importance and complexity of this question, the RPP as a party, will issue a separate statement on the subject in the near future.
The RPP was founded with a vision for the future of Rwanda and the Great Lakes region. Since its foundation, the RPP has been committed to peaceful and democratic change in Rwanda. We also seek to promote human rights, the respect for the law, and broad social equality. Thus, the Rwanda People’s Party has developed a program in line with its vision for Rwanda. Our program seeks to make our country peaceful and prosperous and leaves our dark history in the past – so that we can deliver a better tomorrow for our children.
Our Track Record In Helping To Advance the Cause of Rwanda
We have spent our first five years supporting policies that can deliver a better future for all our people. The RPP believes in constructive politics, we will never put our own personal and party aims before the people. We have sought to support those policies and initiatives that benefitted the people of Rwanda and our friends and allies everywhere in the world. We have loudly condemned those actions and policies that are detrimental to the prosperity, human rights and welfare of Rwandans. We have also publically voiced our support for the following issues:
● Scholarships for Rwandans to study abroad.
● The disarming of the FDLR.
● Advocacy for the return of all Rwandan refugees.
● The campaign against violence all over the world from the Great Lakes Region to Syria.
● The responsible deployment of Rwandan peace keepers, e.g. Haiti, South Sudan, C.A.R, Mali etc.
● Progressive social and economic policies in Rwanda.
● Political reforms and accountability from those in public life.
● The release of prisoners without file- or lodgers.
● The release of all convicts over 60 years of age.
● The release of all political prisoners in Rwanda.
● The rights of the Gay and Lesbian community in Rwanda.
We have also been the Party that most strongly advocates for more help for people with disabilities, widows of AIDS victims and sufferers with the disease and ‘street’ children. We have sought to provide more contraceptives for younger women, and to ensure even economic development in our country. We continue to seek policies that will encourage the economy outside Kigali and we are eager to support great regional integration in the East African region. We support the ‘Northern Corridor’ free movement of people and goods and also the use of the Rwandan currency in neighbouring countries and to permit the use of the Kenya, Uganda and Tanzanian Shillings as legal tender in Rwanda as part of a plan for greater economic integration.
Our Voice In International Affairs & Rwanda’s Interests Abroad
The RPP has a special interest in the Great Lakes Region and in international affairs and it seeks to promote democratic and peaceful change not just in Rwanda, but also internationally.
● The RPP will continue to support the efforts of the international community to disarm all lawless armed groups, currently destabilizing the DRC, so as to bring sanity and the rule of law to the devastated region of the Eastern part of the DRC.
On the strained relationship Rwanda has with its neighbours, in particular Tanzania, this is a serious concern. The RPP deplores that act of Tanzania in expelling Rwandans and Tanzanians of Rwandan origin. However, the RPP believes that as abhorrent as this action has been, Tanzania is a sovereign independent nation and has the legitimate right to decide who should live or be expelled from its territory. Such decisions will never lead the two countries in a conflict. Despite our disagreement(s), we believe that Rwanda and its people regard Tanzanians as neighbors, sisters, brothers, relatives and friends. We always wish to see Tanzanians living in peace and the continuation and progression of political stability that has been prevailing in the country since independence. We welcome the Tanzanian people who wish to visit Rwanda, do business in Rwanda or wish to settle in Rwanda. The Gateway corridors between Rwanda and Tanzania are open and will still continue to be open to Tanzanians and other foreign nations forever. This is the view of the RPP and the entire Rwandan people. The new Rwanda is home for all Rwandans and all peoples including our brothers and sisters of Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya, DRC, Burundi and others throughout the world. Rwanda as a nation and a people will never turn back visitors, refugees or those who want to live in our territory.
The hysterical allegations propagated by groups harboring ethnicity bias and a genocidal ideology that Rwanda will invade Tanzania or its neighbours’ are just delusions. Further, Rwandans are pre-occupied with economic problems, social, education, health care; environmental issues and how to build Rwanda into a peaceful society that will guarantee equal opportunity, equal rights and equal protection of the daughters and sons of Rwanda. Those are our main concerns and not any conflict with Tanzania or any other country. The RPP believes that the recent poor relations between Mr. Kagame and Mr. Kikwete have arisen because of miscommunication and misunderstandings but ultimately, we believe this unfortunate impasse has been and will be resolved without resorting to military confrontation. The misunderstanding between these two Presidents has been unfortunately exploited by those who want to see further bloodshed and conflict between people in the region. The hysterical allegations propagated by groups harboring ethnicity and a genocidal ideology must be rejected by passionate and loyal Rwandans and rational citizens everywhere. Nevertheless, these two leaders are also morally and politically obligated to repair this relationship and not allow the misinterpretation of their communications to develop in way that supports or facilitates wholly irresponsible and inappropriate actions and political positions.
On the Question of the international political arena, the RPP is fully behind the Minsk II Peace Accord brokered by Russian President Putin, French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel, aimed at ending the Ukraine civil war that has devastated the Eastern Region of Ukraine and left 5,486 dead, 12,972 wounded across Eastern Ukraine, 978,482 Internally Displaced People within Ukraine, including 119,832 children.
The RPP is encouraged by the breakthrough, in the latest round of talks between the Syrian government and opposition groups in Moscow, that took place in April. This is the first time Syrians have reached an agreement upon some of the principles that could provide the foundation for further negotiations between all parties. Ultimately, when you have a breakthrough, even if it’s a partial breakthrough, it means that the next meeting could lead to a full agreement about what are the principles for a full and inclusive Syrian dialogue that will bring a Syrian, solution to the current conflict, one that will be lasting and just. We hope a comprehensive agreement will be reached soon to free Syrians from the horrors of civil war. We call upon the international community, to consider a Syrian, made solution as the best way to end the Syrians suffering.
We have been positively overwhelmed by the success of the Iranian and P5 + 1 Group, Nuclear agreement. (See our April 03, 2015 statement on this matter.) In sum, we believe this landmark and historical agreement has likely averted catastrophic military consequences that could devastate the entire Persian Gulf region and the world at large.
The RPP also welcomes the readiness of the East African Standby Force (EASF) to be deployed in conflict zones when needed.
The RPP is very concerned about the famine, malnutrition and starvation that is causing so much suffering among Somali IDP and refugees. We call upon the international community to recognize that fighting the Al-Shabab alone, without caring about the humanitarian crisis facing the Somali victims of civil war, will not help to defeat the Al-Shabab. The RPP calls upon the international coalition against Al-Shabab to reevaluate its strategy. There is a need to reach a political settlement in Somalia to end the decades of terror that suffered by the people of Somalia.
The RPP is also concerned with the continued delay of the EAC expansion. We call upon the group to immediately allow South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti joins the group. It is also our party’s conviction that the DRC Republic of Congo should be invited to join the group. This will help the DRC to emerge from the shell of a failed state, and through this action take the first step into the family of civilized nations. The integration of the EAC needs to be achieved over a period of time. The RPP therefore, propose the integration of the EAC should be done in different phases. Even in Europe, the European community took many years to be integrated and even today it is still struggling to achieve its ambitions. Therefore, the RPP calls upon Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya to begin the process by becoming the first countries to form the EAC federation.
The RPP welcomes the ICC decision to drop their political motivated charges against President Uhuru Kenyatta. We call upon the ICC also to drop charges against the Kenyan Vice-President Mr. Ruto. Like the case of Mr. Kenyatta, the RPP will continue to engage with groups and individuals in the commanding positions of influence on this biased ICC court behind the closing and lobbying them to influence the ICC to drop the case against Mr. Ruto. The RPP believes that Africa as continent will continue to lose it direction and respect on the international stage unless pull out of this illegitimate court, that plainly appears to have been established to try political enemies rather than as a bona-fide court charged with adjudicating and convicting those who are actually guilty of crimes.
The RPP is concerned about the worsening security situation in Burundi and the continued inflow of Burundian refugees into Rwanda because of the fear of violence, which is a result of the controversial incoming Burundian presidential elections. Over 100000 Burundian refugees have fled their country into Rwanda and Tanzania for safety fearing that the country might descend into violence ahead of the presidential elections due June 26. The RPP is greatly alarmed at the events in Burundi in recent days. There has been an apparent failed Coup D’état, and widespread summary executions of protestors. This alleged Coup was staged by Nkurunziza and his allies to preempt the Tanzanian meeting of regional leaders that was aimed at encouraging him to state down. This “Coup” was also a pretext to burn all the TV and radio stations belonging to the opposition.
Therefore the current President needs to step down and call new elections in order to end the bloodshed of recent weeks. Until that time a government of National Unity can be installed and this will govern the country until a new democratically elected government can be sworn in. The RPP also calls on the international community to ensure that peace returns to Burundi and that new, fair elections are scheduled for the country as soon as possible. (See our release of 30/April and 9 May 2015 on subject matters). The RPP is concerned that President Kikwete of Tanzania, Kagame of Rwanda, Museveni of Uganda and Kenyatta of Kenya, lack of action is unacceptable, especially as citizens of the East African community are detained, tortured and killed. We believe the silence of the east African heads of state is making the matter worse to the people of Burundi and is unacceptable because it will allow those responsible to believe that they can behave with impunity.
We must learn from history. When leaders have remained silent in the face of injustice and cruelty they have failed in their duty. Silence encourages those who are committing evil to carry on with their crimes, because they believe that they will not be brought to account. It is the duty of every world leader to speak out against the crimes in Burundi, especially the most powerful such as Presidents Obama, Putin and Hollande and Prime Minister Cameron. There is a particular obligation on regional leaders to speak. Regional organizations such as the African Union (AU), the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Development Community of Southern Africa (SADC), should condemn the violence in Burundi. The United Nations should also be more active in denouncing the violence in Burundi. Institutions like the Catholic Church and other religious organizations need to set an example and condemn the present violence in Burundi.
Silence means that you are helping the oppressor. In the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu “If you choose neutral in situations of injustice, you choose the oppressor's camp" By staying silent the world’s leaders are siding with the oppressors and the executioners. They are abandoning the oppressed people of Burundi and favouring those who torture and kill them. If the world stays silent then the violence will get worse. If Burundi is allowed to descend into bloody chaos then the international community has abandoned the people of Burundi and failing in its duty to uphold international law. It is the sacred duty of every world leader, to speak out on the violence and bloodshed in Burundi.
The RPP is very concerned that South Africa that has just freed itself from the shackles of Apartheid, and is now slowly rebranding itself into the first African nation of Xenophobia. Because foreigners and people from other nations are not welcomed. We strongly condemn the recent burning alive and killings of Somalis and other African nationals, and the vandalizing of shops and properties belong to their fellow Africans. This is not what the rest of the African nations expect, seeing South Africa turning itself into an infamous brand of hate and xenophobia against fellow Blacks. We call upon the governments of all African countries to do whatever is possible to protect the rights of other nationals living in their respective countries.
Fellow Rwandans, the RPP is deeply saddened by the tragedy of African refugees drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, while trying to reach Europe. This year’s over 1950 died, this includes 1200 African refugees/immigrants who died in shipwrecks across Mediterranean in the Month of April. Today, more than 10000 refugees most of whom are children and women that have been rescued by the Italian Coast Guards, have been totally denied or refused the right to reside in Europe, instead they are being detained and incarcerated on ships in appalling conditions. Refugees that were allowed to reach Europe are also being kept in concentration camps without sanitation and heating. The RPP calls upon the European countries to share the burdens of these desperate refugees. The Party also calls upon the African leaders to do more to improve the livelihoods of their people in order to discourage them from making a most dangerous and even suicidal journey to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea.
Our Agenda To Strengthen the RPP
On the occasion of our fifth anniversary let us not forget to thank the many friends of Rwanda, for their generosity and willingness to help our country and people. These include individuals, NGOs and governments. The RPP thanks our many friends and supporters for their courageous acts on behalf of the people of Rwanda.
Fellow Rwandans, we are encouraged that the majority of you have not let a few morally depraved people lead you astray. You are true sons and daughters of Rwanda. You are true patriots who put the love of your country before everything else. We call upon you to continue to have courage to resolve differences in a spirit of peace and be an example to all of our fellow Rwandans the same rights and privileges. During the coming year, we pledge that we will continue to be a force for fostering justice, peace, social, and political reform in Rwanda. Nothing will stop us from advancing the cause of peace, national reconciliation and democracy in our homeland. We will leave no stone unturned in our quest for non-violent democratic change - through one man, one vote. The Party will continue to support policies that benefit our people, no matter where they come from.
We are on a journey together, to a better Rwanda. Let us all work together for a better Rwanda, where the values of our country, and the noble traditions of our cultures, will have changed to be ones where people feel “a deep sense of national pride.”
Fellow Rwandan and Friends of Rwanda, once again, we thank you all and look forward to the continued growth, expansion, and effectiveness of the Rwanda People’s Party (RPP).
May the Holly Might God Bless you
John V Karuranga, President
Rwanda People’s Party