Rwandan politics and elections
The Rwandan National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces (FDU-INKINGI) held their first joint meeting in Washington D.C on September 19, 2011. The meeting was attended by approximately 30 Friends of Rwanda representing various countries and political parties.
Spearheading the conference was Dr. Theogene Rudasinwa, former Ambassador to the US from Rwanda under President Kagame, representing the RNC and Dr. Gerald Gahima, former Attorney General also under President Kagame. From the FDU was Dr. Nkiko Nsengimana Co-ordinator for FDU-INKINGI as well as three other key members.
The main theme throughout the conference was for ways of developing a peaceful political transition in Rwanda in order for the people of Rwanda to have the freedoms they deserve under the Rwandan Constitution which include open political space, freedom of the press and freedom to speak freely without persecution. The RNC/FDU desire for the UK and US to support their plan in their continued efforts for a peaceful transition in Rwanda before anything devastating occurs again as it did in 1994.
The deep-rooted fear among Rwandans of those in power affects their ability to express themselves freely – which consequently has an impact on political participation, according to a new national survey by the Senate. Despite the appearance of a democratic process it came as no surprise to many in the political circles as to the outcome of the Senatorial election on September 26, 2011. As the results were announced earlier today the blogosphere erupted with statements that those “elected” has been predetermined to take their seats. Under a dictatorial regime there are no surprises in politics and who is “elected” to political offices. While the voter turnout may be accurate, and there is no real reason to believe it is not, the outcome, as with most all election in Rwanda, are predetermined by the top offices. The people of Rwanda certainly came out to vote because they are hungry for democracy, but the question will remain; were their voices heard and did their votes count?
Sixty-nine percent of those surveyed believe the fear of authority is the major obstacle to freedom of speech and political space, followed closely by the mindset of nepotism and the legacy of Genocide. (Rwandainfo.com, Senatorial survey)
The Rwandan Parliament consists of Senate (26 seats; 12 members elected by local councils, 8 appointed by the president, 4 appointed by the Political Organizations Forum, 2 represent institutions of higher learning; members to serve eight-year terms) and Chamber of Deputies (80 seats; 53 members elected by popular vote, 24 women elected by local bodies, 3 selected by youth and disability organizations; members to serve five-year terms)
Unconfirmed reports from have indicated that Jeanne D’Arc Gakuba may win Kigali City senate seat. Of those who registered, 16 vied for the Southern Province slot, 15 in the Eastern, 11 in the Western, nine in Kigali city and five in the Northern Province.
The 26 members of the Senate, only 14 will be elected. The President of the Republic of Rwanda will nominate eight others while the Consultative Forum for Political Parties will nominate four.
“The post–genocide election period, is one of the proof which can justify our levels of understanding democracy, Good Governance and sustainable development. We already understand that elections are a strong pillar which connects Good Governance and sustainable development in Rwanda,” Karangwa added. (igihe.com)
The vice president of the National Electoral Commission, Fatu Harerimana, said that there was a high voter turnout.
“The turn up was over 80 percent. It was peaceful and conducted in a free and fair manner,’’ Harerimana said. (The New Times)
By: Jennifer Fierberg, MSW