Pluralism of consensus and political inclusion in the post 1994 Tutsi Genocide Rwanda - Part III

In the second part of the series, the writer delved on the Rwandan political scene from 1991-1994, which he terms as ambiguous and revengeful multiparty system.
Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi
Dr Pierre Damien Habumuremyi

In the second part of the series, the writer delved on the Rwandan political scene from 1991-1994, which he terms as ambiguous and revengeful multiparty system. The key players then were the then ruling party MRND, as well as opposition including PL, PSD, PDC, MDR and the Democratic Forces of Change that at some stage sought an alliance with the RPF, which had waged its war of liberation on 1 October 1990. According to the writer, between 1990 and 1994, the ideological foundation of the first two republics had often clearly been questioned by some members of the MRND and the civil society. The writer also introduces the extremism factor that is played out by both the ruling MRND and various opposition parties to deter RPF in its liberation efforts.   Below  is the third and final part:

Multiparty system of consensus and political integration from 1994

It is commonly accepted that a political system is democratic if it meets four conditions, namely: the people’s sovereignty, political pluralism, separation of powers and the rule of law. Democracy remains the main channel through which good governance is conceived and exercised. Thus the political orientations adopted after the 1994 genocide in application of constitutional principles to establish good governance, allow to confirm that the main references of democracy, namely the participation of the people in choosing their leaders or political representation, the multiparty system and freedom of expression are on the right track in Rwanda.

Lively debates

Unlike the imported model of democracy in most African countries, the new leadership after the 1994 genocide chose to give to the Rwandan society, a democracy adapted to the socio-political history of the country. To this end, the Government of National Unity held lively debates in Urugwiro Village from May 8, 1998 to 27 June, 1999. These debates which were chaired by the then Head of State included a panel of actors of political life during the crucial period of 1957-1961, leaders and high officials of the first and second republics, personalities involved in the management of the State after the genocide of 1994 and representatives of scientific and academic society. The results of these debates played a big role in determining the fate of Rwandan society and provided guidance on the political management of the country. Two key political orientations emerged from the debates held in Urugwiro Village: the reshaping of the Rwandan national identity instead of secular identities of Hutu, Tutsi and Twa and the
consolidation of a pluralistic democracy of consensus and integration.

It is this spirit which was translated into the constitution of June 4, 2003 through its nine principles. The law on political organisations authorised political activity of parties up to the administrative entities and more specifically to the villages.

The opposition in the manner of established democracies was not deemed appropriate in the post genocide Rwanda and the selected option was a consensual democracy through the forum of political parties with a rotating leadership for all political parties that compose it. Through the forum of political parties approved in Rwanda, politicians meet regularly to discuss important issues and strategies for the future of society and the benefit of the Rwandan population.

Rwandan democracy is one of conciliation that breaks away from the past marked by exclusion and ethnic and political discrimination that were the bedrock of Rwandan conflict for decades after independence until the 1994 genocide. In order to heal the wounds from the past, Rwanda has preferred consociative arrangement which puts forth the proportional system instead of majoritarian democracy where the winner takes all. A peculiarity is worth to be mentioned: this is an original electoral system which guarantees participation in the power for all the country’s socio-political classes in strict compliance with the principles of building national unity and the Rwandan national identity.

The period after the 1994 genocide marked the beginning of a new era of political management; the one of inclusive democracy, consensus and conciliation. Constitutional mechanisms of power sharing provide sufficient watchdog to avoid the hegemony of one political force in higher political spheres of the country. The principle of power sharing enshrined in the constitution, which means that the political party that wins the elections, has the obligation to involve other political parties in the management of the country, is well respected by the ruling party i.e. the Rwandese Patriotic Front.

Sharing of seats

At government level, since the elections of 2003 and 2010, the RPF has never exceeded 50 percent of ministerial portfolios as provided for in Article 116 of the Constitution. Other ministerial posts are given to other political parties represented in parliament following their electoral performance as well as to independent technocrats. After the national elections of 2003 and parliamentary elections of 2008, it is observed that the National Assembly set up after these elections is representative in three aspects: geographic, functional and multifaceted.

Within the Chamber of Deputies, nine out of eleven approved political parties are represented in proportion to their electoral performance or following alliances formed during the elections. These parties are: RPF, PSD, PL, PDC, UDPR, PSR, PSP, PDI and PPC. Women hold more than 56 percent of seats in the Chamber of Deputies. The youth are also represented by over 10 percent while the disabled account for five percent of seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

At a professional level, all occupational categories including agricultural producers and economic operators from the private sector are represented in parliament of Rwanda. Geographically, all five provinces including Kigali City are adequately represented and each District has at least one Deputy in the National Assembly.

In addition to the presence in parliament of the great political sensitivities known, regional representation, social and professional identity is confirmed. The result of the political option for integration and consensus in the political management of the country is such that after so many horrible memories of the genocide, Rwanda has become a more stable society, reconciled and geared towards sustainable development.


The multiparty system of consensus and integration was another creative national imagination among many others for the reconstruction of Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. It was confirmed that the bedrock of the Rwandan conflict was always the monopolisation of power by the various political and ethnic forces from time to time that have manipulated the ethnicity of national politics.

To put an end to this vicious circle of political-identity conflict, the new leadership of Rwanda led by the RPF has used its ingenuity to think of a political system that integrates all segments of Rwandan society. The originality in all this was the establishment of legal and institutional mechanisms for political participation through dialogue and consensus between the political parties that are in complete support of national reconciliation and national identity in Rwanda.

Far from a swim in the classical opposition that is sometimes violent, politics in Rwanda adapts to the political majority while respecting the complementarity of ideology and actions of other political parties on the national political scene. Political organisations do not complain about lack of freedom of action nor about lack of expression that has long been criticised by some of the so called “specialists of Rwandan affairs”.

Leaders of political organisations believe and testify that they are free to express themselves if their views do not jeopardise the unity and national reconciliation which is a concept so highly valued for the rebirth of Rwanda as a Nation State. In Rwanda, political pluralism has ceased to be an ethnic and regional pluralism to become a framework for participation and integration of all Rwandan children, both girls and boys. Given such a situation of adequate political and social cohesion, the result is that Rwanda can now focus its efforts on validly positioning itself socio-economically among middle income countries.

The writer is the Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda.

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