Rwandan Patriotic Front

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF–Inkotanyi,[1] French: Front patriotique rwandais, FPR) is the ruling political party in Rwanda. Led by President Paul Kagame, the party has governed the country since its armed wing defeated government forces, winning the Rwandan Civil War in 1994.

Rwandan Patriotic Front

Front Patriotique Rwandais
PresidentPaul Kagame
FounderFred Gisa Rwigyema
Founded1987
HeadquartersKigali
IdeologyNationalism
Populism
Political positionBig tent
Colours  Sky blue
Chamber of Deputies
36 / 80

Since 1994, the party has ruled Rwanda using tactics which have been characterized as authoritarian.[2][3] Elections are manipulated in various ways including banning opposition parties, arresting or assassinating critics, and electoral fraud.[4]

HistoryEdit

Rwandese Alliance for National UnityEdit

Following the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979, the Tutsi refugee intelligentsia in Uganda set up the region's first political refugee organization, the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU), to discuss a possible return to Rwanda. Though primarily a forum for intellectual discussion, it became militant after Milton Obote's election of 1980 resulted in many Tutsi refugees joining Yoweri Museveni in fighting the Ugandan Bush War. In response, Obote denounced Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) as composed of Banyarwanda. A failed attempt to force all Tutsi refugees into the refugee camps in February 1982 resulted in a massive purge, driving 40,000 refugees back into Rwanda. Rwanda declared that they recognized only 4000 of these as Rwandan nationals, while Uganda declared that they would take back only 1000. The remaining 35,000 were left in a legal limbo along the border region that lasted for years, from where many refugee youths left to join the NRA.[5]

Two of the 27 people who were part of the 1981 NRA raid at Kabamba that began the war were Tutsi refugees: Fred Rwigyema and Paul Kagame, who had grown up together in Kahunge refugee camp and were both active members of RANU. By the time that the victorious NRA entered Kampala in 1986, about a quarter of its 16,000 combatants were Banyarwanda, while Rwigyema was its deputy commander. After the Museveni government was formed, Rwigyema was appointed deputy minister of defense and deputy army commander-in-chief, second only to Museveni in the military chain of command for the nation. Kagame was appointed acting chief of military intelligence. Tutsi refugees formed a disproportionate number of NRA officers because they had joined the rebellion early and thus had accumulated more experience.[6]

The contributions of the Banyarwanda in the war were immediately recognized by the new government. Six months after taking power, Museveni reversed the decades-old legal regime and declared that Banyarwanda who had resided in Uganda would be entitled to citizenship after 10 years. In December 1987, RANU held its seventh congress in Kampala and renamed itself the Rwanda Patriotic Front. The new RPF, dominated by Banyarwanda veterans of the war, was far more militaristic than the original RANU.[6]

Rwandan Patriotic FrontEdit

On 1 October 1990 the RPF led by Major-General Fred Gisa Rwigyema invaded Rwanda, starting the Rwandan Civil War. Despite Rwigyema being killed on 2 October, the RPF incursion was initially successful. However, the Rwandan Army received help from Belgium, France and Zaire and within a month had regained the initiative, forcing the RPF back into Uganda.[7]

Paul Kagame was very close to Rwigyema as such he was asked to return from his military studies in the United States to take over the RPF. Thereafter the RPF resorted to guerrilla attacks, focusing on the Byumba and Ruhengeri areas,[7] gaining control of much of the north of the country in 1992.[8] Eventually negotiations between the RPF and the Rwandan government led to the signing of the Arusha Accords in 1993, resulting in RPF personnel and other refugees being allowed to return to the country.[7] In 1993 the RPF lost local elections in the northern part of Rwanda which it controlled militarily, leading its leaders to conclude that it would not win free and fair elections in the future.[9]

The cease-fire ended on 6 April 1994 when President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was shot down near Kigali Airport, killing him and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the President of Burundi. It is still unknown who launched the attack; the RPF blamed Hutu extremists in the Rwandan government, while the government claimed that the RPF was responsible for the attack.[10] The shooting down of the plane served as the catalyst for the Rwandan genocide, which began within a few hours. Over the course of approximately 100 days, an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Tutsi were killed, on the orders of the interim government.[11] The Tutsi RPF restarted their offensive, and took control of the country methodically by cutting off government supply routes and taking advantage of the deteriorating social order.[12] On 7 June, the Hutu Archbishop of Kigali, Vincent Nsengiyumva, was murdered near the Kabgayi church center with two bishops and thirteen priests by members of the RPF, who were said to have believed the prelates were involved with the killing of their families.[13] Western observers have stated that the RPF prioritized taking power over saving lives or stopping the genocide.[a]

The RPF victory was complete when Kigali was captured on 4 July and the rest of the country on 18 July. The RPF's Pasteur Bizimungu was installed as President of Rwanda, with Kagame appointed vice president. The RPF was split into a political division which retained the RPF name, and a military one, called the Rwandan Patriotic Army (now the Rwandan Defence Forces).[citation needed] During and after the invasion, massacres of Hutus, both in Rwanda and in Congo, and mass arrests of suspected genocide perpetrators further alienated the RPF from the Hutu majority of the population.[16]

In February 1998 Kagame was elected president of the RPF, replacing Alexis Kanyarengwe, and in March 2000 he became the national President.[8] Following a constitutional referendum in 2003, Kagame was elected President with 95% of the vote. The RPF formed a coalition with several smaller parties, which received 74% of the vote in the 2003 parliamentary elections, winning 40 of the 53 elected seats in the Chamber of Deputies.[8] The coalition won 42 seats in the 2008 parliamentary elections, and Kagame was re-elected as President in 2010 with 93% of the vote. The 2013 parliamentary elections saw the RPF-led coalition win 41 seats.

According to political scientist Lars Waldorf, the RPF "sees majoritarian democracy with free elections not just as a recipe for political defeat but also for murderous violence".[17]

Electoral historyEdit

Presidential electionsEdit

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
2003 Paul Kagame 3,544,777 95.06% Elected  Y
2010 4,638,560 93.08% Elected  Y
2017 6,675,472 98.80% Elected  Y

Chamber of Deputies electionsEdit

Election Party leader Votes % Seats +/− Government
2003 Paul Kagame 2,774,661 73.78%
33 / 80
  33 Government coalition
2008 3,655,956 78.76%
36 / 80
  3 Government coalition
2013 76.22%
37 / 80
  1 Government coalition
2018
36 / 80
  1 Government coalition

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Luc Marchal, the senior Belgian peacekeeper in Rwanda at the time, told Judi Rever, "Not only did the RPF not show the slightest interest in protecting Tutsis, it fuelled the chaos. The RPF had one objective. It was to seize power and use the massacres as stock in trade to justify its military operations. This is what I saw."[14] In Shake Hands with the Devil, Romeo Dallaire writes, "The deaths of Rwandans can also be laid at the door of the military genius, Paul Kagame, who did not speed up his [military] campaign when the scale of the genocide became clear, and even talked candidly with me at several points about the price his fellow Tutsi might have to pay for the cause. The “cause” was clear. It was not defeating the Government’s forces to stop the genocide as soon as possible. It was continuing the civil war until the RPF could take over the entire country."[15]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Rwanda: It's a Landslide for RPF-Inkotanyi". All Africa. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  2. ^ Stroh, Alexander (2010). "Electoral rules of the authoritarian game: undemocratic effects of proportional representation in Rwanda". Journal of Eastern African Studies. 4 (1): 1–19. doi:10.1080/17531050903550066.
  3. ^ Matfess, Hilary (2015). "Rwanda and Ethiopia: Developmental Authoritarianism and the New Politics of African Strong Men". African Studies Review. 58 (2): 181–204. doi:10.1017/asr.2015.43.
  4. ^ Waldorf, Lars (2017). "The Apotheosis of a Warlord: Paul Kagame". In Themnér, Anders (ed.). Warlord Democrats in Africa: Ex-Military Leaders and Electoral Politics (PDF). Bloomsbury Academic / Nordic Africa Institute. ISBN 978-1-78360-248-3.
  5. ^ Mahmood Mamdani (2002) When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton University Press, pp168–169
  6. ^ a b Mamdani, pp172–173
  7. ^ a b c Aimable Twagilimana (2007) Historical Dictionary of Rwanda, Scarecrow Press, p204
  8. ^ a b c Arthur S Banks, Thomas C Miller, William R Overstreet & Judith F Isacoff (2009) Political Handbook of the World 2009, CQ Press, p1125
  9. ^ Waldorf 2017, p. 78.
  10. ^ Hutus 'killed Rwanda President Juvenal Habyarimana' BBC News, 12 January 2010
  11. ^ Meierhenrich, Jens (2020). "How Many Victims Were There in the Rwandan Genocide? A Statistical Debate". Journal of Genocide Research. 22 (1): 72–82. doi:10.1080/14623528.2019.1709611. Despite the various methodological disagreements among them, none of the scholars who participated in this forum gives credence to the official figure of 1,074,107 victims... Given the rigour of the various quantitative methodologies involved, this forum’s overarching finding that the death toll of 1994 is nowhere near the one-million-mark is – scientifically speaking – incontrovertible.
  12. ^ Roméo Dallaire (2005) Shake Hands With The Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, Arrow, p299
  13. ^ New York Times. June 5-10: New Atrocities in Africa; Three Bishops and 10 Priests Are Slaughtered in Rwanda As Tribal Killings Go On, June 12, 1994
  14. ^ Garrett, Laurie (2018). "Rwanda: not the official narrative". The Lancet. 392 (10151): 909–912. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32124-X.
  15. ^ Caplan 2018, pp. 154–155.
  16. ^ Waldorf 2017, p. 82.
  17. ^ Waldorf 2017, p. 85.

Further readingEdit

  • Caplan, Gerald (2018). "Rethinking the Rwandan Narrative for the 25th Anniversary". Genocide Studies International. 12 (2): 152–190. doi:10.3138/gsi.12.2.03.
  • Filip, Reyntjens (2019). "The Rwandan Patriotic Front's information and communication strategy" (PDF). In Thompson, Allan (ed.). Media and Mass Atrocity: The Rwanda Genocide and Beyond. Centre for International Governance Innovation. pp. 133–155. ISBN 978-1-928096-72-6.
  • Campioni, Maddalena; Noack, Patrick, eds. (2012). Rwanda Fast Forward: Social, Economic, Military and Reconciliation Prospects. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-36048-8.
  • Purdeková, Andrea; Reyntjens, Filip; Wilén, Nina (2018). "Militarisation of governance after conflict: beyond the rebel-to-ruler frame – the case of Rwanda". Third World Quarterly. 39 (1): 158–174. doi:10.1080/01436597.2017.1369036.
  • Reyntjens, Filip (2016). "(Re-)imagining a reluctant post-genocide society: the Rwandan Patriotic Front's ideology and practice". Journal of Genocide Research. 18 (1): 61–81. doi:10.1080/14623528.2016.1120464.
  • Chemouni, Benjamin; Mugiraneza, Assumpta (2020). "Ideology and interests in the Rwandan patriotic front: Singing the struggle in pre-genocide Rwanda". African Affairs. 119 (474): 115–140. doi:10.1093/afraf/adz017.
  • Makhunga, Lindiwe D. (2019). "Post-genocide Rwanda and discursive construction of legitimacy: contesting seemingly dichtomous political narratives". Social Dynamics. 45 (3): 382–394. doi:10.1080/02533952.2019.1690759.
  • Thomson, Susan (2018). Rwanda: From Genocide to Precarious Peace. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-23591-3.
  • Reyntjens, Filip (2013). Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-107-04355-8.
  • Ingelaere, Bert (2014). "What's on a peasant's mind? Experiencing RPF state reach and overreach in post-genocide Rwanda (2000–10)". Journal of Eastern African Studies. 8 (2): 214–230. doi:10.1080/17531055.2014.891783.
  • Behuria, Pritish (2016). "Centralising rents and dispersing power while pursuing development? Exploring the strategic uses of military firms in Rwanda". Review of African Political Economy. 43 (150): 630–647. doi:10.1080/03056244.2015.1128407.
  • Cassimon, Danny; Engelen, Peter-Jan; Reyntjens, Filip (2013). "Rwanda's involvement in Eastern DRC: A criminal real options approach". Crime, Law and Social Change. 59 (1): 39–62. doi:10.1007/s10611-012-9397-7.

External linksEdit