Rwanda. In September, President Paul Kagame’s party won Rwanda’s Patriotic Front (RPF) a major victory in the parliamentary elections. The party received 76% of the vote. It corresponded to 41 of the 53 directly elected seats in the Chamber of Deputies, which has 80 members. Two other parties included in the government, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Liberal Party (PL), received 7 and 5 seats respectively. A further 27 members were elected indirectly. They represent women, young people and people with disabilities. The quota system means that women are in the majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
According to Countryaah, the election result was given as no real opposition parties were running and no independent candidates passed the five percent barrier. Regional election observers felt that the election was free. Just before the election, two people were killed by hand grenades in the capital Kigali. No group took on the blame, but the government accused the FDLR huturebell movement in Congo (Kinshasa).
Rwanda reacted angrily to a play by neighboring Tanzania’s president to consider talks with the FDLR. The proposal was presented in May at a summit in the African Union and led to fierce exchanges of opinion between the countries.
Relations with neighboring Congo (Kinshasa) were also tense. Rwanda accused the neighboring country of several attacks on border areas during the year. Congo and the UN claimed that they were executed by the rebel group Movement March 23 (M23) operating in eastern Congo. Rwanda denied that it supported M23, as a leaked report from the UN Congo-Kinshasa expert group asserted in June. In October, the United States decided to freeze its military aid to Rwanda, citing the fact that M23 deployed child soldiers. The UN forces in Congo, MONUSCO, stated that children were recruited in Rwanda. This was rejected by Rwanda Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo.
Rwanda’s decision to support peace talks between the Congo and the M23, held in Uganda, helped several donors, including the EU, resume aid payments. Aid accounts for about 40% of the country’s budget.
Legal proceedings regarding the 1994 genocide continued in Rwanda and abroad. In December, the Supreme Court tightened the penalty for Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the opposition party United Democratic Forces. She was sentenced to 15 years, including for conspiracy against the government. In March, she had appealed against a previous sentence of eight years in prison for terrorism and aggravated genocide. Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch questioned the legal certainty of the process.
In March, a Dutch court sentenced a Rwandan-born woman to just over six years in prison for hate crimes, but she was freed from genocide. A Rwandan-born man, suspected of participating in the genocide, was transferred from Norway in March after the European Court of Justice rejected the 60-year-old’s complaint that he would not receive a fair trial. In June, the Stockholm District Court sentenced a 55-year-old Rwandan-born man to life imprisonment for his role in massacres in western Rwanda. The man and prosecutors appealed to the High Court. President widow
Agathe Habyarimana’s application for asylum in France was rejected in June. She has struggled for many years not to be extradited to Rwanda.
In May, British police arrested five men suspected of genocide. Several of them had previously been heard in British courts, but released after using loopholes in the law.
A French court in September ordered Colonel Laurent Serubuga on the loose, which upset Rwanda. Serubuga was previously Deputy Army Chief of Staff and wanted for genocide. The court considered that he could not be charged with genocide because the crime was not in the Rwandan Penal Code when the offense was committed in 1994.
In June, journalist Saidath Mukakibibi was released after serving three years in prison. She was a reporter at the Umurabyo magazine and was convicted together with the newspaper’s publisher Agnès Uwimana Nkusi for slander. Nkusi would serve another year. The Supreme Court shortened their prison sentence in 2012 and dismissed several charges. Human rights groups have criticized the judgments.