President Paul Kagame. Photo: Rwanda Government CC BY-ND 2.0

Elections with a given winner

On 4 August Rwanda holds political elections. It is already clear that President Paul Kagame, who has been in power since 2000, will be re-elected for another seven years.

Rwanda has recorded spectacular development of its economy, gender equality and public services such as education and internet access. At the same time, the country’s government is criticised for exercising strict political control and of persecution of political dissidents. The right for people to engage politically is strictly limited.

In Friday’s election, two independent candidates are allowed to run but neither is expected to get substantial support.

“They have both been allowed to speak to the media. However, the state-owned media is so overwhelmingly on Kagame’s side that it is difficult for others to get much space”, said NAI researcher Jesper Bjarnesen when he was interviewed by Swedish Radio P4 on Thursday.

Bjarnesen said that the regime is using the genocide in 1994 as an argument for keeping the strict control. According to the regime, a more open system could revive old tensions that lead to the genocide. However, 23 years after the genocide, this is no longer a convincing argument, according to Bjarnesen.

Kagame’s so-called consensus model was discussed at a seminar in the Swedish parliament in 2016.

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