According to COUNTRYAAH, Rwanda has a population of 12.3 million (2018). Rwanda continues to be praised for an orderly economy and low corruption, but the political climate is hardening. During the first months of the year, at least three people were killed and about sixty were injured in a number of hand grenade attacks in the capital Kigali. The government placed responsibility on former army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who moved to South Africa. He was shot in June in an attempted murder outside his home in Johannesburg. Journalist Jean Léonard Rugambage, whose website newspaper Umuvugizi hinted at the regime’s involvement in the murder trial, was murdered shortly thereafter. The police investigation concluded that he had fallen victim to a revenge attack linked to the 1994 genocide.
In July, a leading representative of one of several unregistered opposition parties was also found murdered. Several opposition parties had been denied applications for official registration prior to the presidential election. The usual explanation was that they spread a hateful ideology, that is, spread to the views of the Hutu majority.
Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, leader of the United Democratic Party, was arrested by police both before and after the presidential election – in which she was not allowed to stand – and charged with cooperating with the terrorist organization and denying the genocide.
Before the election, the authorities closed several opposition newspapers and radio stations. The Reporters Without Borders organization classified Rwanda as one of the ten countries that most violated media freedom.
In the absence of real opposition, President Paul Kagame got 93 percent of the vote in the August election. Victoire Ingabire, at that time on the loose, urged the outside world not to recognize the election result. Observers from the Commonwealth found the absence of opposition candidates “disturbing”.
In March, former President’s wife Agathe Habyarimana was arrested in France, the days after President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Rwanda to repair relations between the countries. Habyarimana, considered one of the brains behind the genocide, was brought to safety by French soldiers in 1994 and has since lived in France. For the rest of the year, she fought hard in the courts to avoid extradition to Rwanda.
The UN-backed ICTR court in Tanzania is still investigating suspected Rwandan war criminals and sentenced several long prison sentences during the year. An undercover man charged in 2001 was arrested in Uganda during the year and extradited to ICTR. The Court still has a list of ten people searched worldwide.
In Finland, a Rwandan war criminal was sentenced to life imprisonment. A 54-year-old Rwandan who Sweden decided to extradite to his home country was allowed to remain in custody pending a decision by the European Court of Justice on possible extradition.