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Greens2017 Congress - Closing - Frank Habineza


Thank you very much.

It's a pleasure for me to be here. 

We are very pleased for all the organisers that this wonderful Congress. I come from Rwanda, a country from East Africa. 

Most of you know it because of the genocide. Of course, the country is moving forward after 20 years. We have been working hard to establish democracy. As you know, after the genocide, the party taht stopped the genocide was a revolutionary movement, and it has been difficult for that party to become a democratic party because they are military men. 

Because of the conditions, lack of democracy, lack of proper justice system, problems with the media, with society, we said we need to have a political party which will take care of our country. Its natural resources, but also take care of democracy and make sure you have human rights. We established the party in 2009. It was not easy, of course. We were beaten physically, by people who had pistols. Some of our people were arrested and others were put in prison. Others were forced into exile. In 2010, when we were trying to run for elections, one of my deputy presidents, André Kagwa Rwisereka

was assassinated. It was horrible, he was beheaded. 

I was forced to leave the country and go to exile in Sweden where I stayed for two years and of course got support from Greens all over the world: Australian Greens, Swedish Greens.

I was able to go back in 2012 and we finally got our party registered in 2013. The party has been trying to do a lot of work, as the only registered opposition party. The current president has finished two terms. He wants to have another term. We said, "No, Mister President. Your time is over. You have to respect the constitution". We took the case to the parliament. It didn't work. We took it to the Supreme Court. We had a case. But in that case, we won something. They wanted to have open term limit for the president, to be there forever, like in Zimbabwe. We said no. We wanted to reduce the time limit from seven years to 5 years. 

They accepted - from 7 to 5 years. They also accepted to maintain the 2-term time limit in the constitution. They included another article that the current president could stay for another seven years and another 2×5 years. It was a win-and-lose situation. 

We decided not to give up. We stood for elections. We know we are standing for democracy, social justice and human rights. We said we will have a just win in this election. I was passed as a candidate two weeks ago. 

The election is in August and it is very important. In Africa, it is a big chance for us to win. One of the progressive people from Egypt who tried to stand against Mubarak, the system was too difficult for him to be elected. He was put in prison and is now in exile. 

We hope that in this election we have a chance to win, that you will stand with us so that we don't become like a man who left the election and going to prison. I hope you understand that even if I go to prison, you continue to stand with me, that we are family, we are together. 

You have stood with us through this struggle. It is a struggle for humanity and for dignity, for natural resources, for peace. We are in a region that is full of conflict, for instance in the Congo. There are so many deaths, rapes and in Burundi, the political conflict there. And in Uganda. We are in a place that is prone to civil conflict and wars. If there is good news in Rwanda, if a Green candidate wins in Rwanda, it means there will be peace in the region and we have a good chance to win.

I thank you very much.

#Greens2017 Congress - Closing - Frank Habineza


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