Who’s who: Rwanda’s political parties

As Rwandans prepare to go for elections, FRANK KAGABO takes a close look at the different political parties to understand the course the elections are likely to take.
RPF Chairman Paul Kagame (L), Fred Gisa Rwigema was the first leader of RPF (C), Alexis Kanyarengwe led the RPF through the liberation struggle (R), PSD Boss: Vincent Biruta and PL Boss Protais Mitali. (File photos).
RPF Chairman Paul Kagame (L), Fred Gisa Rwigema was the first leader of RPF (C), Alexis Kanyarengwe led the RPF through the liberation struggle (R), PSD Boss: Vincent Biruta and PL Boss Protais Mitali. (File photos).

As Rwandans prepare to go for elections, FRANK KAGABO takes a close look at the different political parties to understand the course the elections are likely to take.

The Rwanda Patriotic Front (FPR) INKOTANYI

The RPF has been in the leadership since 1994. It is a party credited with the ending of the Genocide and bringing stability to the country.

The party is led by Paul Kagame who has held the position since 1998.

Kagame replaced the late Alexis Kanyarengwe who had been the party chairman since the early nineties, through most of the liberation struggle.

The party was originally led by the late Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema who became the leader of the party when it was formed in December 1987.

It had its roots in the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU) an organisation formed in 1979 in Nairobi Kenya by Rwandan refugee intellectuals.

The party started the Rwandan liberation war on October 1, 1990. On the second day of its liberation struggle, the party leader and military chief Gen. Rwigema was killed in combat.

The party re-organised under the political and military leadership of Alex Kanyarengwe and Paul Kagame respectively.

It thereafter conducted a highly successful guerrilla campaign. It was involved in peace talks with the then government of Juvenal Habyarimana. In 1991, it engaged the then government in the Nsele (Gbadolite) peace talks.

Later it was involved in the Arusha peace talks with the Habyarimana government in 1992 and 1993. Following the death of Habyarimana and the Tutsi Genocide, the Front renewed its liberation struggle and in July 1994 took over power and ended the Genocide.

In July 1994 it formed a government of national unity with other parties, excluding those that had taken part in the Genocide.

According to observers, the party was able to bring about unity and reconciliation in the aftermath of the Genocide because of its commitment to the implementation of the Arusha protocols that had been agreed upon during the peace talks.

Since the end of the government of national unity in 2003, the party has governed the country in a partnership with other political parties. This has ensured that all political players are assured a role in the governance of the country.

In the last parliamentary elections, the party in a coalition with other five parties won forty seats in the chamber of deputies out of fifty three.

Having gone into a coalition once again with other six parties, it is the party many would bet their money to win a majority in the forthcoming parliamentary elections.

In the outgoing chamber of deputies, the party had the vice speaker of the House Dennis Polisi, and several committee chairpersons.

Liberal Party (PL)

The Liberal party is one political party that won seats in the previous chamber of deputies. However, it was rocked with internal party struggles that culminated into the expulsion of two of its members from parliament.

This followed after hotly contested elections that saw Protais Mitali defeat Polycarp Gatete for the position of party president.

In the same elections, Senator Oddette Nyiramirimo defeated Ibuka (Genocide survivours organisation) president Theodore Simburudari for the position of First Vice President.

The members Elie Ngirabakunzi and Isaieh Murashi were expelled following the election of Protais Mitali and Oddette Nyiramirimo as president and first vice president of the party respectively, according to press reports at the time.

The two were replaced by Francois Udahemuka and Charles Kamanda. The party recently issued a list of its parliamentary candidates.

It remains to be seen if the wrangles that rocked the party in 2007 will have a negative impact on its success come September 15.

Social Democratic Party (PSD)

This is one of the parties contesting the parliamentary elections, without having gone into a coalition. It recently released a tentative list of its parliamentary candidates for the chamber of deputies.

It is led by the current president of the senate (the upper house of parliament) Vincent Biruta. According to press reports, some of its vocal legislators were not included on the tentative list that was made public several days a go. These include Aaron Makuba, Abel Dushimimana and Francois Nduwumwe.

In the last parliamentary elections the party won seven seats in the chamber of deputies.

Ends

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