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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Rwanda: Background and Current Developments

Ted Dagne
Specialist in African Affairs

In 2003, Rwanda held its first multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections in decades. President Paul Kagame of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) won 95% of the votes cast, while his nearest rival, Faustin Twagiramungu, received 3.6% of the votes cast. In the legislative elections, the ruling RPF won 73% in the 80-seat National Assembly, while the remaining seats went to RPF allies and former coalition partners. In September 2008, Rwanda held legislative elections, and the RPF won a majority of the seats. Rwandese women are now the majority in the National Assembly. In October 2008, the National Assembly elected Ms. Mukantabam Rose as the first female speaker of the Assembly. In August 2010, Rwanda held its general elections and President Kagame won 93% of the votes cast.

In Rwanda, events of a prior decade are still fresh in the minds of many survivors and perpetrators. In 1993, after several failed efforts, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and the government of Rwanda reached an agreement in Tanzania, referred to as the Arusha Peace Accords. The RPF joined the Rwandan government as called for in the agreement. In April 1994, the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, along with several senior government officials, were killed when their plane was shot down as it approached the capital of Rwanda, Kigali. Shortly after, the Rwandan military and a Hutu militia known as the Interhamwe began to systematically massacre Tutsis and moderate Hutu opposition members. In the first 10 weeks of the Rwandan genocide, an estimated 1 million people, mostly Tutsis, were slaughtered by government forces and the Interhamwe militia. In July 1994, the RPF took over power and later formed a coalition government.

In late 2008, the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) agreed on a wide range of issues. The two governments agreed to launch a joint military offensive against the National Congress for the Defense of the Congolese People (CNDP) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). They also agreed to restore full diplomatic relations and to activate economic cooperation. In January 2009, Rwanda and Congo launched a joint military operation in eastern Congo. In late February 2009, Rwandese troops pulled out of Congo as part of the agreement with the Kabila government. In October 2009, Ugandan authorities arrested a top genocide suspect, Idelphonse Nizeyimana. He was later transferred to Tanzania to stand trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

Date of Report:
August 31, 2011
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