Politics of Rwanda

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politics and government of

Rwanda gained its independence on July 1, 1962. Politics of Rwanda reflects Belgian and German civil law systems[1] and customary law takes place in a framework of a presidential republic, whereby the President of Rwanda is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. On 5 May 1995, the Transitional National Assembly adopted a new constitution which included elements of the constitution of 18 June 1991 as well as provisions of the 1993 Arusha peace accord and the November 1994 multiparty protocol of understanding.

National legislature

Rwanda has a National Assembly, with 80 members. 53 of them are directly elected and 27 are indirectly elected by representatives of special interest groups. The Senate has 24 members in which 16 are indirectly elected and eight appointed by the president.[2]

Political background

After its military victory in July 1994, the Rwandese Patriotic Front organized a coalition government similar to that established by President Juvénal Habyarimana in 1992. Called The Broad Based Government of National Unity, its fundamental law is based on a combination of the constitution, the Arusha accords, and political declarations by the parties. The MRND party was outlawed.

Political organizing was banned until 2003. The first post-war presidential and legislative elections were held in August and September 2003, respectively.

The biggest problems facing the government were the reintegration of more than 2 million refugees returning from as long ago as 1959; the end of the insurgency and counter-insurgency among ex-military and Interahamwe militia and the Rwandan Patriotic Army, which is concentrated in the north and south west; and the shift away from crisis to medium- and long-term development planning. The prison population will continue to be an urgent problem for the foreseeable future, having swelled to more than 100,000 in the 3 years after the war. Trying this many suspects of genocide will tax Rwanda's resources sorely.

The current government prohibits any form of discrimination by gender, ethnicity, race or religion. The government has also passed laws prohibiting emphasis on Hutu or Tutsi identity in most types of political activity.

Political focus

The political focus over the years in Rwanda has made a shift towards economic improvement. They are centralizing their foreign exchange around coffee and tea production, helping to reduce poverty and inequality. The World Bank praises their efforts.[3]

Rwanda is still consider a low income country with $7.890 billion GDP, based on U.S. dollars, with a total population of 11.34 million people in 2014.[4]

The political headcount ration on national poverty lines decreased by more than ten percent from 2005 to 2010 and their life expectancy of about 64 years, is higher than that of similar Sub-Sahara African countries as well as other low income countries.[4]

Rwanda’s C02 emissions in 2011 totaled 0.1 metric tons per capita, which was much lower than similar Sub-Sahara African countries as well as other low income countries. Their school enrollment rate is much higher than similar Sub-Sahara African countries as well as other low income countries.[4]

Kagame has reached out to the large companies, such as Costco and Starbucks, who are now the two largest buyers of Rwandan coffee beans.[5]

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Paul Kagame Rwandese Patriotic Front 24 March 2000
Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi Social Democratic Party 24 July 2014

The President of Rwanda is elected for a seven-year term by the people. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are appointed by the president. The president has numerous powers that include creating policy in conjunction with the Cabinet, signing presidential orders, put into effect the prerogative of mercy, negotiating and passing treaties, commanding the armed forces, and declaring war or a state of crisis.[1]

Current Presidential Overview

The current President of Rwanda is Paul Kagame, born in 1957. He is the 6th President of Rwanda[6] and was elected in 2003. In 2007, the former President, Pasteur Bizimungu, was released from prison on a presidential pardon. Kagame was reelected in 2010, receiving 93.1 percent of the votes cast.[7] Since taking office, Kagame has raised business, reduced crime and corruption, and has attracted the likes of many foreign investors.[8]

Kagame has not groomed anyone to be his successor, so there’s nothing that points to who his successor could or should be.[8]

President Paul Kagame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front are the dominant political forces in Rwanda. There is only one registered opposition party and many political opponents have fled into exile.[9]

President Kagame received military training in Uganda, Tanzania and the United States.[6] He was a founding member of current Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's rebel army in 1979 and headed its intelligence wing, helping Mr Museveni take power in 1986.[6]

Legislative branch

The Parliament (Inteko Ishinga Amategeko or Parlement) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Umutwe w'Abadepite/Chambre des Députés) has 80 members, 53 of them elected for a five-year term by proportional representation with a 5% threshold, 24 (female members) elected by provincial councils, 2 by the National Youth Council and 1 by the Federation of the Associations of the Disabled. It is the only legislative chamber in the world where women (45) outnumber men (35).[10]

The Senate (Umutwe wa Sena or Sénat) has 26 members elected or appointed for an eight-year term: 12 elected by provincial and sectoral councils, 8 appointed by the president to ensure the representation of historically marginalized communities, 4 by the Forum of political formations and 2 elected by the staff of the universities. Additional former presidents can request to be member of the senate. Rwanda is a one party dominant state with the Rwanda Patriotic Front in power. Opposition parties are allowed, and are represented in Parliament, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power.

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Rwanda. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Rwanda.

Judicial branch

The Supreme Court of Rwanda is the highest judicial power in Rwanda. It and the High Council of the Judiciary oversee the courts of lower ordinary jurisdictions and courts of the special jurisdictions in Rwanda. The Supreme Court consists of the Court President, Vice President, and 12 judges.[11]

Established in 2001, the Gacaca Court was established by the National Unity Government to try cases of genocide against the Tutsis.[11]

Judges are nominated by the president of the republic, after consulting with the Cabinet and the Superior Council of the Judiciary. They are then approved by the Senate. The court president and vice president appointed for 8-year nonrenewable terms.[11]

Administrative divisions

Rwanda has 5 provinces: Kigali Province, Northern Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province and Western Province. The borders for these provinces were created in 2006.[1]

Key ministers[2]

International organization participation


Rwanda joined the Commonwealth of Nations in 2009, making the country one of only two in the Commonwealth without a British colonial past;[12] the other being the former Portuguese colony Mozambique.


  1. 1 2 3 "Politics in Rwanda | About Rwanda". www.aboutrwanda.com. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  2. 1 2 "EIUCountry Login". country.eiu.com. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  3. "Rwanda country profile - Overview - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  4. 1 2 3 "Rwanda | Data". data.worldbank.org. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  5. "Rwanda Rising: A New Model of Economic Development". Fast Company. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  6. 1 2 3 "Profile: Rwanda's President Paul Kagame - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  7. "Rwanda : Constitution and politics | The Commonwealth". thecommonwealth.org. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  8. 1 2 "King Paul". The Economist. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  9. "20 Years After Genocide, Rwanda Prospers but Political Freedom Remains Elusive". VOA. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  10. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/revealed-the-best-and-worst-places-to-be-a-woman-7534794.html
  11. 1 2 3 "Rwanda Judicial branch - Government". www.indexmundi.com. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8384930.stm
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