Rwanda. In January, 40,000 prisoners were released, several of whom were suspected of being involved in the 1994 genocide. This was done both to ease the congestion in prisons and to contribute to reconciliation. The murderers who were released – and who admitted guilt and repentance – had to spend some time in newly established rehabilitation centers before being allowed to go home.
Nine years after the massacres of 800,000 people, legal proceedings continued. After the largest single trial to date, 11 people were sentenced to death, 73 to life imprisonment and 21 to prison for up to 25 years. According to Countryaah.com, Rwanda Independence Day is July 1. The case involved the murders of 50,000 people in the Gikonko district. Seven judgments were handed down in the Arusha UN Court in Tanzania. A total of 15 people have been sentenced in nine years. Of particular importance in the case of precedent was the ruling in December against three former bosses at the “hate media” that led to the genocide. Two of them were sentenced to life imprisonment and one to 35 years.
In September, Gambian lawyer Hassan Bubacar Jallow assumed the post of Chief Prosecutor in Arusha since Rwandan criticism led to Swiss exchange Carla del Ponte being replaced.
A new constitution was approved in a referendum in May. The basic idea was national unity. banned ethnic or religiously based parties. The Constitution also stipulated continued co-government – regardless of the election results – and stated that the President, the Prime Minister and the President of Parliament must not belong to the same party. Since the constitution was adopted, presidential and parliamentary elections were announced. At the same time, the largest opposition party, the hut-dominated Democratic Republican Movement (MDR), was banned. Its presidential candidate, former Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, was forced to stand as an independent.
After an election campaign in which allegations of ethnic rioting scared most oppositionists into silence and where the regime had total control over the mass media, President Paul Kagame gained over 95% of the vote in the presidential election. His party, the Tutsidom-dominated former guerrilla Rwanda’s Patriotic Front (FPR), won big in the parliamentary elections. In practice, the small Tuts minority thus regained the power monopoly it had before Rwanda’s independence in 1962. However, this should not be pointed out as all debate on the ethnic conflict was banned.
Some hope for the future nevertheless sent the message in November that the leader of one of the hutumilis who had been hiding in Congo (Kinshasa) since 1994 decided to interrupt the fight against the government. Paul Rwarakabije, leader of the FDLR militia, withdrew from the violence and left home, accompanied by hundreds of his soldiers.