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Rwanda Politics

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 Rwanda (FDR).

Political System of Rwanda

GOVERNMENT

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 government posts.

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.

Policy

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 vote.

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 national unity.

Judiciary

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 constitutional court.

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.

Human Rights

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 discrimination.

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 adopted.

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

Kings
1797-1830 Yuhi Gahindiro
1830-60 Mutara Rwoogera
1860-95 Kigeri Rwabugiri (Kigeri IV)
1895-96 Mibambwe Rutalindwa
1896-1931 Yuhi Musinga
1931-59 Mutara Rudahigwa
1959 Kigeri Ndahindurwa (Kigeri V)
Presidents
1962-73 Gregoire Kayibanda
1973-94 Juvénal Habyarimana
1994 Théodore Sindikubwabo
1994-2000 Pasteur Bizimungo
2000 Paul Kagame
Other Countries in Africa

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