Rwanda: Silencing Dissent Ahead of Elections

Rwanda’s presidential elections will take place on August 9, 2010, in a context marked by increasing political repression and a crackdown on free speech.

Over the last six months, Human Rights Watch has documented a worrying pattern of intimidation, harassment and other abuses – ranging from killings and arrests to restrictive administrative measures – against opposition parties, journalists, members of civil society and other critics.

There are four candidates in the elections: the incumbent president, Paul Kagame (Rwandan Patriotic Front, RPF); Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo (Parti Social Démocrate); Prosper Higiro (Parti Libéral); and Alivera Mukabaramba (Parti du Progrès et de la Concorde). 

None of the other candidates are believed to pose a serious challenge to President Kagame. Their parties have been broadly supportive of the RPF, and most Rwandans would not describe them as “real” opposition parties.

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