The elections held last September in Rwanda were lauded by many as having been free and fair. Not only did the parliamentary election usher in fresh faces representing the different political parties, it also saw female parliamentarians take the largest number of seats - a percentage of 56.2.
Rwanda’s constitution also provides for other constituencies to be represented in parliament, that is the youth and those with disabilities.
Now for those with an interest in democracy, who carry a passion of measuring how democratic or representative a country is, they must not look further than Rwanda’s parliament as it is constituted today.
It is important therefore to laud the initiative of the US organization the National Democratic Institute (NDI) in fostering linkages among Rwanda’s political parties in the spirit of strengthening multi-party democracy.
Rwanda will in April commemorate for the 15th time, the horrific Genocide against the Tutsi. The celebrations are not just about the end of horrors still etched on the minds of many but also an acknowledgement of the human spirits’ ability to triumph against the odds and registering tremendous achievements.
Given that the end of the Genocide meant that there was not a structure left standing, all institutions had been totally decimated.
The task of the new leadership was to oversee a nine year transition which included the drafting of a new constitution, revitalization of functioning government institutions coupled with a healing process.
That is why 15 years on, partnering with institutions such as the NDI, makes sense as these will help to further enhance the country’s desire for a workable democracy, something that eluded previous regimes.
Given that prior to the Genocide; Rwandans hardly tasted any form of democracy, languishing under the brutal oppression of previous regimes, whose governance was characterized by the Genocide ideology.
A new dawn is beckoning for Rwanda, brought about by the tireless leadership that is in place.
It is however, instructive for international bodies such as the NDI to understand that each country, will shape its institutions according to its history, and meaning that there is no model of governance based on ‘one size fits all’, it differs depending on a plethora of historical challenges a country’s leadership has to take on.
America has its own challenges related to governance and democracy and so will any other county. What is wrong is to force one’s value systems down the throats of others, based on the very unfair skewed relationship that characterizes our power relations, based especially on one party being more financially resourced.
That is why those wishing to help Rwanda further enhance her institutions of governance must do so with the due respect of the strenuous efforts taken by the current leadership to bring the country to where it is today – a beacon of peace and stability.