State and politics
Rwanda formally has a democratic multi-party system, but
the policy is completely dominated by the authoritarian
President Paul Kagame and his party Front Patriotic
The current constitution was adopted by a referendum in
May 2003 and is strongly influenced by the experiences of
the 1994 Tutsi genocide. should be obliterated, that
national unity should be encouraged and that power be shared
equally. The Constitution guarantees respect for human
rights and the freedom of the individual and prohibits all
forms of discrimination. Political parties may be formed
freely, but no parties or other organizations may be based
on ethnic or regional basis, nor on gender, religion or any
other discriminatory basis.
The president is Rwanda's head of state and
commander-in-chief, the highest representative of the
executive power, as well as the guarantor of national unity.
The President appoints the Prime Minister, and has the right
to dismiss him, and can dissolve Parliament at most once
during his term of office. The president is elected in
general elections for five years and could previously be
re-elected once. In 2015, a referendum was held in which 98
percent of voters were positive about a proposal for a
constitutional amendment that allowed Paul Kagame, president
since 2000, to run for a third term in the 2017 election.
Following a constitutional amendment in 2010, former
presidents become immune to prosecution for life.
Kagame's time in power has been marked by stability and
economic growth, which has contributed to his popularity.
However, there are opposition movements, but these are
suppressed by the regime. See
AbbreviationFinder for how RW can stand for Rwanda.
According to the constitution, Rwanda is to be led by
coalition governments. No party, no matter how large a
parliamentary majority, may hold more than half of the
Parliament consists of the Chamber of Deputies and the
Senate. The Chamber of Deputies has 80 members, 53 of whom
are elected in general elections for five years. Of the
other indirectly elected 27 members, 24 will be women, two
will represent the country's youth and one member represents
the disabled. This quota system has contributed to the fact
that since the last parliamentary elections in August 2003,
when 15 women were elected by their own power, Rwanda has
the world's highest proportion of female MPs. After the 2008
election, the women were in the majority in the Chamber of
Deputies and after the 2013 elections, close to 2/3 of the
members were women.
Twelve of the Senate's 26 members are appointed by the
provincial boards, two by academic institutions, eight by
the president and four by a party-based body. At least 30
percent of senators should be women. The term of office of
the Senate is eight years.
President since 2000 is Paul Kagame, leader of the
Tutsid-dominated former guerrilla movement Front
Patriotic Rwandais (FPR; also known as Rwandan
Patriotic Front, RPF, and at Kinyarwanda as
Inkotanyi). He was elected by the country's
transitional parliament in 2000, first elected in 2003 with
95 percent of the vote and re-elected in 2010 with 93
percent of the vote. In the 2017 election, which was held
after the constitutional changes that allowed him to run for
another term, Kagame received close to 99 percent of the
In the 2003 election, FPR received 40 of the
direct-elected mandates following election co-operation with
several smaller parties. In the same year, Parliament banned
the dominant opposition party Mouvement démocratique
republicain (MDR) on the grounds that it was
propagating power for the Hutus. No real opposition to
Kagame and FPR has really existed since then and the regime
has gradually begun to control increasingly authoritarian.
In the 2008 and 2013 parliamentary elections, the FPR-led
coalition received 42 and 41, respectively, of the directly
elected seats. The remaining mandate was distributed between
the Social Democrat Party (PSD) and the Party
Liberal Party (PL), which is close to FPR.
In the last parliamentary elections, held in 2018, FPR
received 41 seats, PSD five and PL four seats. Two smaller
parties each got two seats in Parliament: the Party of
Social Imberakuri, which is considered loyal to the
regime, and the Party of Democratique, the only
real opposition party in the Chamber of Deputies.
Although most outsiders have a strong understanding of
the need to prevent the extreme thoughts behind the genocide
from recurring, for example, international human rights
organizations have raised fears that the current government
is trying to silence all opposition under the umbrella of
The justice system in Rwanda has been developed under
strong Belgian, and thus also French, influence. However,
local custom plays an important role in some areas of law.
The general courts consist of two kinds of courts, one
appellate court and one court of cassation, to which comes
an administrative court (the so-called State Council) and a
The judiciary was severely strained after the genocide,
when a significant portion of Rwanda's lawyers were
murdered. To speed up the handling of the tens of thousands
of cases of suspected involvement in the genocide, a
traditional legal system, gacaca (roughly:
grassroots courts), was put into
operation. In these, the suspects were held accountable to
the residents of the villages where the crimes were
committed, and, as in the original gacaca courts, there was
a stated intention that the process would promote
reconciliation. However, legal security was considered low,
since the defendants had to run their own defense and the
judges had limited legal training.
The last gacacao courts were closed in 2011. The regular
judicial system has been rebuilt and in 2011 the UN Criminal
Tribunal (ICTR) transferred to Arusha, which had the task of
probing Rwandans suspected of involvement in the 1994
genocide, for the first time a case to Rwanda. A
prerequisite for this was that the death penalty was
abolished in Rwanda, which happened in 2007. The last
execution was executed in 1998.
See also State of affairs and politics.
The people of Rwanda were subjected to terrible crimes
during the short but violent war that took place in 1994
(see History). The violence stemming from ethnic tensions
between mainly the two ethnic groups, Hutu and Tutsi,
culminated in a genocide when approximately 800,000 people
were killed within three months. In today's Rwanda,
discrimination in law is prohibited and information about
which population group each person belongs to is removed
from the identity documents.
A 2010 report by the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights (OHCHR) praised Rwanda's efforts to form a new
inclusive society that explicitly rejects historical
discrimination after the war, and the Commissioner also
noted progress in gender equality work. But despite the
efforts made, human rights violations are still being
reported, including cases of extrajudicial executions,
torture, disappearances, violence against children, human
trafficking, gender-related violence, illegal detention and
The work of opposition parties is made more difficult and
the government has imposed tight restrictions on freedom of
expression and freedom of association. Rwanda's
constitution, which was adopted after a referendum in 2003,
guarantees freedom of expression, meeting and press, but it
is not complied with. According to Human Rights Watch, there
are constant threats and prosecutions against journalists,
which hinders the opportunities for independent journalism.
Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index places Rwanda
in place in 161 of 180 countries in 2015, pointing to a
serious situation for respect for the freedom of the press
and the press. Working conditions for free media in Rwanda
are a continuing problem.
Women's representation is relatively high in both
parliament and government and many households in Rwanda are
led by women as a result of the genocide. However, violence
and sexual violence against women are common, albeit on a
decline. In 2008, a new law on violence against women was
According to UNICEF, approximately 1.2 million children
live as orphans (2010) and child prostitution and child
labor are relatively common. Orphaned children are exploited
under more or less viable conditions for housework, guarding
livestock and agriculture.
Homosexuality is not socially accepted, and specific
legislation on non-discrimination for homosexuals is
lacking, but the Constitution clearly states that no form of
discrimination is allowed and violence is unusual.
People with disabilities are often subject to
discrimination, and society's view of disability as
something shameful makes families often try to hide disabled
family members. Many people with disabilities are denied
teaching with reference to lack of adaptation.
Heads of State
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