Dancing and chanting of party slogans featured prominently during the two-day PSD congress. (Credit: Taddeo Bwambale)

Dancing and chanting of party slogans featured prominently during the two-day PSD congress. (Credit: Taddeo Bwambale)

It is the 5th congress of the Parti Social D?mocrate or Social Democratic Party (PSD), the second biggest political party in Rwanda.

At the two-day congress which opened on Saturday, party delegates from national and district level meet to elect a new executive and make pronouncements on the upcoming polls.

?Justice, solidarity and development,? a slogan of the party, is chanted repeatedly by every speaker throughout the meeting with a call on members to shun violence as a method of political agitation.

A far-cry from political party meetings across the region, speaker after speaker places emphasis on unity and peace as pillars of development.

?We must unite, irrespective of our ethnic differences because that which unites us is stronger than what divides us,? a woman recites a poem in Kinyarwanda, paying tribute to past, present and fallen party stalwarts throughout its struggle since the 1990s.

Officials from other political parties, including the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) are then excused from and escorted out of proceedings of the congress by Anastase Murekezi, the country?s Prime Minister who belongs to the opposition PSD party.
Jean-Damasc?ne Ntawukuriryayo, the President of the Senate in Parliament and PSD party?s secretary general says the party has made significant progress over the last five years and is ready for the polls.

Rwandans will go to the polls in 2017 but a debate is rife on whether incumbent President Paul Kagame should seek re-election after his term ends.

Hundreds of Rwandans have petitioned Parliament to amend Article 101 of the Rwandan Constitution to remove the term limits, although a cross-section of them remain opposed to the move.

Article 101 states: ?The President of the Republic is elected for a term of seven years renewable only once?.

It further reads: ?Under no circumstances shall a person hold the office of President of Republic for more than two terms?.

President Kagame has previously stated his interest not to run for another term, but insists the people of Rwanda have the right to decide their destiny.

Unlike neighboring Burundi where groups of people have gone to the streets to protest the removal of term limits for President, groups of Rwandans are mobilizing in droves to support such a move.

The PSD party was Sunday scheduled to pronounce itself on the push for the removal of term limits for President. Those in favour of the move cite Kagame?s achievements in transforming Rwanda.

Analysts attribute Rwanda?s rapid socio-economic progress to inclusive government built on power-sharing. For instance, under the constitution, the ruling party cannot take more than 50% of cabinet seats.

Taddeo Bwambale, The New Vision


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