Rwanda's Parliamentary Elections: Democratic or Not?


Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 11:54 a.m. DST, 24 December 2013

President Paul Kagame, Rwanda, Photo by David Shankbone

Rwanda, unlike many African countries has held democratic elections for its government with its people by and large in support of its current and past leader President Paul Kagame. The Parliament in which the governing party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), won a vast majority of the seats. The RPF, lead by President Paul Kagame, has been in power ever since the 1994 genocide and has yet to face a serious political opponent.

The world witnessed the horrors of the 1994 genocide, which were also brought to the attention of American movie viewers in the real life drama portrayed in the movie Hotel Rwanda. The movie explored the genocide, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence as a result of this conflict.

So, despite peaceful election, it seems incongruous that a populace subjected to such brutality would in the final tally of votes, grant the RPF 76% percent of the votes, which allowed it to keep the vast majority of the Parliamentary seats, winning 40 out of a total of 53, and essentially solidify Kagame's reign of the country.

Although, the elections went smoothly without reports of fraud, the election brings renewed attention to the dominance of Kagame's party for nearly two decades.

The small country has made an immense turnaround ever since the horrendous genocide, but Kagame and his party have held a tight grip on power ever since. The international community praises Kagame for the economic growth and general stability of his country, but there are still periodic reports of political oppression, freedom of speech restrictions, and meddling in the DRC's affairs.

For now, the Rwandan population seems content with the Parliamentary results and continued RPF domination, but it remains to be seen how many elections the citizens will endure before they yearn for political change and competition.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols