Francis Kaboneka, Local Government Minister in Rwanda, has warned local leaders to be careful of any frustrating involvement disappointing some candidates while taking their campaign rallies in respective districts.
During a video conference, held at the Ministry offices, with local leaders from all districts, Kaboneka said that local leaders should welcome the candidates coming in their areas so that they intervene if any candidates face difficulties.
“Candidates should be welcomed and freely stage their manifesto to citizens, who will decide on their ideal leader. Candidates have their rights provided by Rwandan laws and therefore should not meet any hurdles during the campaign. We need transparent and joyful campaigns,” Kaboneka told leaders.
Kaboneka made the remarks days after a number of recent cases of campaign venue mix-up that brought frustrations among some candidates in some districts. He accused some local authorities of lacking the character of hospitality while holding their rallies ahead of August 4th presidential elections.
A typical example is the day when independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana’s rally was interrupted in Nyamasheke when the district Mayor, Aime Fabien Kamali, told him that they have not received any official letter from the candidate to hold campaign in the Western province-based district venue.
Mpayimana has reportedly filed a letter requesting to campaign at the district headquarters but, when he arrived at the planned venue, he was surprisingly told to move the rally to a different venue after the mayor said the letter has not reached the district administration.
Another case happened in Nyagatare last Sunday when Green Party’s flag bearer Frank Habineza failed to hold his campaign at the district venue after local leaders boycotted it by suddenly changing the campaign site.
Things went even worse for Habineza when he shifted patiently to another site and motorcyclists attended his rally carrying branches of trees and flags of other political parties, preventing the delegation to access the site, although police made quick intervention.
Habineza was also subject to another scene in Kirehe, when his campaign was marred by primary school kids, carrying a different political party’s flags, and interrupted his campaign by disturbing his political party morale with puzzling choruses.
Reference to recent complaints from the candidates, Kaboneka cautioned local leaders to take responsibility and facilitate candidates who come to campaign in their respective districts while warning them against stopping people to take part in supporting their preferred candidate during election campaigns, underlining that it is every citizen’s right to support their preferred candidate.
Further warning, a more serious one, goes to local leaders who get involved in embezzling the contributions collected from the communities to support in preparing presidential elections, where Kaboneka said anyone subject to such illegal actions will be held accountable.
“We realized that some local leaders collect the contributions for citizens and spend them in their own businesses. That is embezzling and it is penalized by the law. If anyone has been involved in such actions, justice will take action against them”.
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