Government Politics of Rwanda

Last elections: August 2010 (presidential), 16 September 2013 (parliamentary)

Next elections: 2017 (presidential), 2018 (parliamentary)

Head of State: President Paul Kagame

Head of Government: the President

Ruling party: Rwandan Patriotic Front

In April 2000 President Pasteur Bizimungu was succeeded by Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) leader Paul Kagame. Following endorsement of a new constitution by referendum in May 2003, Kagame won the presidential election in August 2003, with 95% of votes, and the RPF won the country’s first multiparty parliamentary elections in September 2003, with 40 of the 53 directly elected seats and 74% of votes. The Social Democratic Party took seven seats and the Liberal Party six; turnout was nearly 100%. Former president Bizimungu received a 15-year jail sentence for embezzlement and inciting violence in June 2004; he was released in April 2007 when he received a presidential pardon.

When in November 2006 a French judge issued an international arrest warrant for Kagame, alleging that the RPF was responsible for shooting down the plane carrying former president Juvénal Habyarimana in April 1994, Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations with France. In October 2007 the Rwandan Government set up an inquiry into the plane crash that had sparked the genocide, which concluded in late 2009 that Habyarimana’s own army had been responsible. In August 2008 Rwanda released a report naming more than 30 senior French officials alleged to have been involved in the 1994 genocide. Rwanda and France resumed diplomatic relations in November 2009.

In the parliamentary elections of September 2008 the RPF was returned taking 42 seats and 79% of votes; the Social Democratic Party won seven seats and the Liberal Party four. Turnout was again close to 100%.

In the presidential election of August 2010, when 98% of the electorate voted, Kagame won a resounding victory, receiving 93.1% of the votes cast. His main rival, Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo of the Social Democratic Party, secured 5.1%.

The RPF was returned with a strong mandate in the parliamentary elections of 16 September 2013, gaining 41 elective seats in the Chamber of Deputies, with 76 per cent of votes cast. The SDP took seven seats and the Liberal Party five. Turnout was again close to 100 per cent.