Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame told new legislators who were sworn-in on Wednesday, to hold government more accountable, warning that corruption and divisive politics would not be tolerated.
‘‘If you can only account for 25% of the resources you are responsible for, we will ask you about the other 75%,’‘ the president warned.
The president who was officiating the swearing in ceremony of new members of parliament, elected to serve a five year term asked the lawmakers to ‘remain close to the citizens’ and ‘deliver on the promises’ made during campaigns’.
In Rwanda, it is not pressure we respond to, it is our own thoughts. Where this country comes from has taught us that we must refuse to be a submissive people.
The 80 members of parliament include persons drawn from special interest groups like women, youth and people with disabilities.
In his speech, Kagame made reference to the ‘new legislators and new parties’ in parliament, given the fact that for the first time, the opposition Democratic Green Party (DGP) won seats in the house.
The president was however quick to add that he expected cooperation and harmony.
‘‘We want thoughts and ideas that bring us forward. And we will not be afraid to tell you that we have no room for those that take us backwards,’‘ Kagame said.
Rwanda will make its own choices
The president then sought to make a case for Rwanda’s sovereignty, arguing that the country will chart its own course rather than be pressured by external forces.
‘‘In Rwanda, it is not pressure we respond to, it is our own thoughts. Where this country comes from has taught us that we must refuse to be a submissive people,’‘ Kagame said.
‘‘If we did not give clemency, how many people would still be in prison? We would still have 100 of thousands in jail. But to build our country, we made the decision to rehabilitate our citizens and enable them to contribute to our country.’‘
Several people including opposition leader Victoire Ingabire and singer Kizito Mihigo were released over the weekend after the president exercised his power to grant a pardon.
The parliament, which constitutes a record 61% women, elected Donatille Mukabalisa to serve a second term as the speaker, while the DGP’s Frank Habineza lost to Musa Fazil Harelimana who hails from Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) in the contest for deputy speaker.