Analysis: Poll puts Rwanda under scrutiny

Published on by KANYARWANDA

NAIROBI, 11 March 2010 (IRIN) - Rwanda's upcoming presidential elections has cast a spotlight on its democratic credentials, with observers warning that allegations of intimidation of opposition leaders could mar the process.

"It is a very important event for our country because it is the second time we are electing a head of state," Chrysologue Karangwa, President of the Electoral Commission, told IRIN. "The people are preparing themselves for it."

Observers say the prevailing political environment restricts opponents of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

"Rwanda needs to allow the democratic process, to create political space for everybody," a Nairobi-based regional analyst, who requested anonymity, said. "Otherwise the elections will be a fait accompli. That will undermine Rwanda's democratic growth."

Paul Kagame has been president since March 2000, after leading the RPF to power in July 1994 and ending the Rwandan genocide. The slaughter of more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus was by far the bloodiest chapter in a long power struggle between the minority Tutsis and majority Hutus.

In August 2003, Kagame won 95 percent of the votes in the first national elections since 1994. His main competitor, Faustin Twagiramungu, won 3.5 percent.

Kagame is widely expected to be nominated again as the RPF flag-bearer in the 9 August election, but recent incidents involving other potential candidates have fuelled concerns that the poll will not be fair. A selection of IRIN reports are posted on ReliefWeb. Find more IRIN news and analysis at

Une sélection d'articles d'IRIN sont publiés sur ReliefWeb. Trouvez d'autres articles et analyses d'IRIN sur

This article does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. Refer to the IRIN copyright page for conditions of use.

Cet article ne reflète pas nécessairement les vues des Nations Unies. Voir IRIN droits d'auteur pour les conditions d'utilisation.


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