Fifteen years ago today, the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) ,the military arm of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), managed to end the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and effectively vanquished the dictatorship that had for many years held sway in Rwanda.
On this fifteenth anniversary when we commemorate the liberation of the country, we need to reflect on the achievements that have been registered so far.
One of the most remarkable achievements of the RPF-led government has been the leading role of women in the political, social and economic spheres of life.
Women, for the first time in the history of Rwanda, have been given the opportunity to serve at the highest levels of governance.
During the last parliamentary elections, women emerged with a numerical majority in parliament, with the Speaker of the House of Deputies elected from among the women majority. Thus a record was set not only in Africa, but globally.
Many have wondered how such a feat – among others – could have been possible in a relatively short period of time.
It will be recalled that the issue of women emancipation and equal opportunities for all, was one of the issues contained in the RPF minimum program as it set out to liberate Rwanda.
Even throughout the struggle, women played a pivotal role. Personalities like Aloysea Inyumba, Rose Kabuye, and Christine Umutoni were some of the women who provided leadership at different levels in different aspects and stages of the liberation struggle.
Thus what we are witnessing today, in form of women entrepreneurs and leaders in society, is a continuation and success of a policy that was at the core of the liberation struggle.
Over the last couple of years, Rwanda has enjoyed total peace and security within its borders. The insurgency that had cropped up in the aftermath of the defeat of the genocidal forces was effectively defeated in the northwestern part of the country.
This was by use of a combination of military and political measures. At the same time, the national army intervened in a pre-emptive strike against the remnants of the ex-FAR that had assembled in eastern Zaire in 1996/97.
This intervention not only helped to neutralize the genocidal forces, but also rescued more than one million civilians that were being held hostage by the genocidal forces.
To ensure lasting security in the country, the government has continued to engage diplomatically with the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to work together to defeat the negative forces.
This cooperation led to a joint military operation by the Rwandan army and the Congolese armed forces against the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
The operation was successful in a way that it succeeded in reducing the capacity of the FDLR to make war and pillage.
Thus the operation dubbed Umoja Wetu provided a background for future operations between the two countries in future efforts to resolve the longstanding security crisis in the Great Lakes region.
The Rwandan army has since 2003, been involved in peacekeeping operations in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
It has provided the bulk of the forces that have helped to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur. At the moment Rwanda’s Patrick Nyamvumba is nominated to head the United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur.
This is testimony to the confidence the international community has in the RDF.
Under the leadership of the RPF, the country successfully applied and was admitted into the East African Community (EAC).
Together with Burundi, Rwanda was admitted in June 2007 thus setting off numerous reforms aimed at aligning the countries policies with the rest of the community.
At the same time, the country has made giant strides in the area of unity and reconciliation. Different factors have combined to facilitate the process.
The success has been in a way occasioned by the restorative justice system, Gacaca, which was adopted to resolve the many cases of people who had participated in the Genocide.
Coupled with this, a unique power sharing mechanism was adopted in the governance of the country. The RPF rules in tandem with other political parties. This creates a win-win situation whereby by there are no losers after elections.
This collegial governance system has helped to keep social harmony and guarantee stability in the country.