President Paul Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party has won the majority of seats in parliamentary elections, an election official said. The election was free and fair, the head of the Rwandan Electoral Commission Kalisa Mbanda said late Tuesday, even though human right groups said opposition parties not allied to the Kagame’s RPF did not have fair conditions. The RPF won 40 of the 53 seats open to political parties. Rwanda’s lower house has 80 members but 27 seats are reserved for women, people with disabilities and the youth. Monday’s elections were Rwanda’s third legislative polls since the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of more than 500, 000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front to victory in Rwanda in 1994, ending the genocide and since then the RPF has dominated politics in Rwanda.
Human Rights Watch said ahead of Monday’s vote, the outcome was “known before the polls.”
Rwanda has received international praise for the economic progress it has made since its genocide. But it also receives international criticism for a lack of free political space. The country has yet to see a flourishing opposition party, and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International warn that Kagame’s government is increasingly intolerant of dissenting voices.