Rwanda:Another Pro-RPF Ex-Minister flees to Burundi, “resigns” from PDI.

Published on by KANYARWANDA

09 March, 2010

Pro-RPF Ex-Minister flees to Burundi, “resigns” from PDI.

Rwandan News Agency
9 March 2010

Following years of speculation after he lost his job, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Al Hajj Andre Habib Bumaya appears to have finally left the country. The party leader and his colleagues in the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI) say it is his right to leave.

Considered the star entrant in President Paul Kagame’s first government 10 years ago, Mr. Bumaya was just a government employee before the Genocide. The latter government posted him as the Rwandan Ambassador to Libya and later assigned him to two cabinet positions – only to be kicked out, which was followed with brutal criticism from the President. The ex-diplomat’s political time-table in Rwanda seems to have come to an end in February.

Mr. Bumaya supposedly left the country on Feb. 22 and headed for Burundi. A week later on Feb 27, where the politician who rode to fame on the Muslim ticket, e-mailed PDI boss and current Internal Security Minister, Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana.

The announcement

The news about Mr. Bumaya’s exile was communicated behind closed-doors by Sheikh Harelimana to party members from across the country at a party conference on Saturday. As the cameras and microphones were on, Mr. Harelimana reaffirmed the party’s support for President Kagame’s candidacy on the RPF ticked in the August presidential election.

Mr. Harelimana said he is barely even a-tenth of the person President Kagame is. After the ceremonial speeches and the journalists left the room, Mr. Harelimana broke
the news nobody was expecting.

"Mr. André Bumaya is no longer a member of PDI," revealed Mr. Harelimana, according to several different delegates who attended the conference. Bumaya wrote to him an e-mail saying he had to leave the country for “personal reasons” and that he will communicate his political position in the coming days.

"For that matter," Mr. Harelimana continued, "we shall not consider him a party member."

Mr. Bumaya was among the 20 ministers from President Kagame’s first cabinet in 2000 when he replaced then president Pasteur Bizimungu. Mr. Bumaya was named Foreign Affairs Minister, a post he lost two years later to Dr. Charles Murigande.

Mr. Bumaya, who some say rode to the top based on the fact that he was head of the PDI party- considered to primarily represent Muslims-was moved to the Ministry of Public Service. Prior to the 2003 Constitution which outlawed religious links for parties, the “I” stood for “Islamic”, but had to be changed to “Ideal”.

President Kagame again sacked Mr. Bumaya from the cabinet in March 2006 amid continued criticism from Parliament, media, and trade unions who blamed him for the woes that had grappled the Ministry of Labour and Public Service.

From the same period up until recently, the government came under immense pressure from donors to reform the public service. Thousands of government employees lost their jobs. Bitter complaints emerged from CESTRAR – the national trade union umbrella, about the way the retrenchment program had been handled.

In 2005, a Parliamentary probe was instituted to look into the complaints. A
damning report accused Mr. Bumaya of implementing the massive retrenchment prior to the creation of the Constitutional Public Service Commission; failing to create a national labour policy; and malpractices in the hiring and firing processes.

As indication that he had clearly fallen out of favour with the appointing RPF authorities, Mr. Bumaya was finally thrown out of the government in March 2006, but not without fierce criticism from the President.

President Kagame openly attacked Mr. Bumaya in a closed-door government retreat a
month earlier. In a clear reference to Mr. Bumaya, President Kagame used him as an example of a Cabinet minister who, he said, go around complaining that they don't posses recruitment powers. The President castigated such claims alleging they were only bent on taking the country back to the style regimes.

PDI insiders who watched the political drama unfold in the small party which has risen to glory on the strength of its alliance with the Rwanda Patriotic Front
(RPF) say the career of Mr. Bumaya started to get in trouble following the 2003 presidential poll.

Mr. Kagame was elected with Sheikh Musa Fazil Harelimana serving as the vice president of the electoral commission. Mr. Harelimana was eventually appointed
Governor of the Western Province.

In the March 2006 cabinet shuffle, Mr. Harelimana was brought into government as
Internal Security Minister as party rival Mr. Bumaya was thrown out.

Mr. Bumaya moved out of the country. It later emerged that he was in the United States completing a Masters Degree in international relations.

Mr. Harelimana’s rise up the party ladder was not about to stop. In 2007, he was elected to lead the small party, the strong backing of the head of the Islamic community in the country, Sheikh Habimana Swaleh.

Though Mr. Bumaya later became spokesman of PDI, observers believed he was no longer politically relevant anymore. His position as a party elite was no more, as the
profile of the Internal Security Minister got more entrenched.

Party “owner”?

The fall from grace for Mr. Bumaya was clearly over, for a man who appeared
out of the blue to be named Ambassador to Libya by the post-genocide government.

Established in 1991 as the Islamic Democratic Party (Parti démocratique islamique), it was founded at the time President Juvenal Habyrimana opened up political space to
multiparty politics.

The PDI joined forces with the RPF in the 2003 legislative election and won two seats in the Chamber of Deputes. Its leader at the time was Mr. Bumaya. In the current Lower Chamber, there are two Deputes representing PDI.

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