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Faith  Nyasuguta 

The Liberal Party (PL) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD), two of Rwanda’s oldest political parties, have thrown their support behind Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) candidate Paul Kagame for the upcoming presidential race in July. This endorsement adds to the backing already received from four smaller political parties, forming a coalition with RPF.

PL and PSD have a historical alliance with the ruling party, and their leaders have held various government positions. For instance, Donatille Mukabalisa, the president of the Liberal Party, also serves as the Speaker of Parliament.

We endorse President Kagame for his efforts in developing sectors like agriculture, education, health, and security,” stated Mr. Mukabalisa.

An ex-rebel leader, Kagame has been considered the nation’s de facto leader since the end of the 1994 genocide.

He was returned to power – with over 90% of the vote – in the 2003, 2010 and 2017 elections.

Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, the president of PSD, emphasized the importance of President Kagame’s openness to ideas from other political parties while announcing their endorsement.

Established in 1991, PSD has maintained a strong alliance with RPF since its inception. Both PL and PSD have had opportunities to field presidential candidates in previous elections, including 2003, 2010, 2017, and now 2024.

Prosper Higiro, representing PL, contested the 2010 presidential election, while PSD nominated Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo. President Kagame secured a significant majority of the vote in that election, with both Higiro and Ntawukuriryayo accepting defeat and continuing to collaborate with the government.

President Kagame /The Citizen TZ/

The alliance between RPF and these parties dates back to the establishment of the multiparty system in 1991, which exerted internal pressure on the ruling party to open up the political space and advance democracy and human rights in Rwanda.

According to Tito Rutaremara, a founding member of RPF, having opposition parties within the country played a crucial role in pressuring the ruling party for reforms. However, these parties faced challenges and eventually joined the government of national unity after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

Critics argue that the current alliance politics in Rwanda may undermine the role of opposition parties in challenging the ruling party and ensuring checks and balances.

In its manifesto for the upcoming elections, PSD proposes extending military service for youth who have completed secondary education, aiming to enhance their skills while continuing their education.

Musa Fazil Harerimana, president of the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), cites Kagame’s commitment to the needs and interests of all Rwandans, as well as his dedication to unity, sovereignty, development, and democracy, as reasons for their continued support.

Pie Nizeyimana, spokesperson of the Forum for Political Parties in Rwanda, defends the parties’ right to endorse candidates, form coalitions, and exercise their democratic freedoms.

The endorsement of President Kagame by PL and PSD reflects their historical alliance with the ruling party and their shared vision for Rwanda’s development and stability. However, questions remain about the role of opposition parties in promoting democracy and accountability in the country’s politics.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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