Find a Security Clearance Job!


Rwanda - Politics

The most important human rights problems are government harassment, arrest, and abuse of political opponents, human rights advocates, and individuals perceived to pose a threat to government control and social order; security forces disregard for the rule of law; and restrictions on media freedom and civil liberties. Due to restrictions on the registration and operation of opposition parties, citizens did not have the ability to change their government through free and fair elections.

There were reports military intelligence personnel employed torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to obtain confessions in military detention centers. There were no reported prosecutions of personnel for torture. There were numerous reports police at times beat newly arrested suspects to obtain confessions. Unregistered opposition political parties reported authorities frequently arrested their supporters and party officials but released most after detention of one week or less, although several, completed longer detention.

Opposition leaders and government critics faced indictment under broadly applied charges of genocide incitement, genocide denial, divisionism, and incitement to rebel. Numerous individuals identified by international and domestic human rights groups as political prisoners remain in prison. Although the constitution and law prohibit such actions, there were numerous reports the government monitored homes, movements, telephone calls, e-mail, other private communications, and personal and institutional data. There were reports of government informants working within international and local NGOs, religious organizations, and other social institutions.

After its military victory in July 1994, the RPF organized a coalition government called The Broad Based Government of National Unity. Its fundamental law was based on a combination of the June 1991 constitution, the Arusha Accords, and political declarations by the parties. The government outlawed the MRND Party. In April 2003, the transitional National Assembly recommended the dissolution of the Democratic Republican Party (MDR), one of eight political parties participating in the Government of National Unity since 1994.

Human rights groups noted the subsequent disappearances of political figures associated with the MDR, including at least one parliamentarian serving in the National Assembly. On May 26, 2003, Rwanda adopted a new constitution that eliminated reference to ubwoko and set the stage for presidential and legislative elections in August and September 2003.

The seven remaining political parties endorsed Paul Kagame for president, who was elected to a 7-year term on August 25, 2003. Paul Kagame was born in October 1957 in Rwandas Southern Province. His family fled pre-independence ethnic persecution and violence in 1960, crossing into Uganda where Kagame spent thirty years as a refugee. Determined to resist oppressive regimes, as a young man, Paul Kagame joined current Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni and his group of guerilla fighters to launch a war to free Uganda from dictatorship. Under the new government, he served as a senior military officer.

In 1990, Paul Kagame returned to Rwanda to lead the Rwandan Patriotic Fronts (RPF) four-year struggle to liberate the country from the autocratic and divisive order established since independence. Led by Kagame, the Rwanda Patriotic Army defeated the genocidal government in July 1994 and the RPF subsequently set Rwanda on its current course towards reconciliation, nation building and socioeconomic development. Paul Kagame was appointed Vice-President and Minister for Defence in the Government of National Unity on 19 July 1994. Kagame, a Tutsi and member of the (mainly Tutsi) RPF had been in office since the then-guerrilla RPA took Kigali in July, 1994. Kagame is one of the "59ers" who grew up as a refugee in Uganda and served in Museveni's army. He led the RPA to victory, but ceded the top spot to President Pasteur Bizimungu, a moderate Hutu. Four years later was elected Chairman of the RPF, a partner in the Government of National Unity.

Kagame is an extremely energetic, extremely intelligent man who has fully taken advantage of many of the hot buttons that he knows the West cares about, that is economic progress, that is environmental concern, that is furthering information technology, He took the lead on the international stage that originally put him among the new African leaders during the Clinton administration, including Meles Zenawi in Ethiopia, and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda.

Rwanda held its first-ever legislative elections September 29 to October 2, 2003. A ninth political party formed after these 2003 elections. In the spring of 2006, the government conducted local non-partisan elections for district mayors and for sector and cell executive committees. Elections for the Chamber of Deputies occurred in September 2008; the RPF won an easy victory in coalition with six small parties, taking 42 of 53 directly-elected seats. As provided in the constitution, 24 seats were also accorded to women candidates in indirect elections. Women now hold 45 of the 80 seats in the Chamber. The elections were peaceful and orderly, despite irregularities. A tenth political party formed in 2010.

Presidential elections were held in August 2010; the National Electoral Commission reported that President Kagame won re-election with roughly 93% of the vote. The presidential election was peaceful and orderly, with heavy turnout. However, the pre-election period was marked by events of concern, including waves of terrorist attacks using grenades in populous areas, the murder of a journalist, the unexplained murder of the vice president of the unregistered Democratic Green Party, an assassination attempt on a former high-ranking government official accused of fomenting attacks, and the suspension of two local-language newspapers. In addition, two political opposition figures were arrested on criminal charges, and a party that had been seeking to register for many months was unable to do so.

Local elections again took place in the spring of 2011, with indirect Senate elections following in the fall. Both elections were peaceful and orderly. RPF candidates again dominated the field.

Join the mailing list