Rwandans to Cast Votes in July 2024 Elections, as President Kagame Seeks Fourth Term

Rwandans To Cast Votes In July 2024 Elections, As President Kagame Seeks Fourth Term

The National Electoral Commission of Rwanda has announced that the country’s citizens will head to the polls on July 15, 2024, to elect their next deputies and president. The upcoming elections will see the current head of state, Paul Kagame, vying for a fourth term as president. Kagame, who has been the de facto leader of Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide, secured over 90% of the vote in the previous elections held in 2003, 2010, and 2017.

The Electoral Commission revealed that the election will encompass the selection of the President of the Republic and 53 deputies from a list proposed by political organisations or independent candidates. Campaigning for the candidates will be permitted from June 22 to July 12, allowing them to present their visions and engage with the electorate.

In addition to the presidential and deputy elections, electoral colleges and committees will also choose twenty-four women parliamentarians, two youth representatives, and one representative for Rwandans with disabilities on July 16, according to the Electoral Commission.

President Kagame, in September, announced his candidacy for a fourth term, expressing gratitude for the confidence Rwandans have shown in him. He stated, “I am happy with the confidence Rwandans have shown in me. I will always serve them, as long as I can.” Controversial constitutional amendments made in the past enabled Kagame to win a third term and could potentially allow him to govern until 2034. He was re-elected as the head of his party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), at its national congress in April.

While the government touts Rwanda as one of the most stable countries in Africa, some human rights groups accuse President Kagame of governing in an environment of fear that stifles dissent and freedom of expression. The country’s ranking in the Reporters Without Borders 2023 World Press Freedom Index stands at 131st out of 180 countries.

The opposition Green Party’s leader, Frank Habineza, is currently the only other candidate to have announced his candidacy for the 2024 elections.

Rwanda’s political landscape remains significant in the context of the country’s history, with the genocide that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in 1994. President Kagame, who was instrumental in ending the genocide, has faced criticism for alleged human rights abuses and the stifling of political opposition during his tenure.

As the election date approaches, Rwandans will have the opportunity to make their voices heard and shape the future direction of their country through the democratic process.


Source: Africa News

UK Immigration Minister Resigns Over Rwanda Asylum Transfer Legislation

Cabinet Meeting At Downing Street In London

In a significant development, UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has resigned over the government’s proposed legislation regarding the Rwanda asylum transfer scheme. Jenrick stated that the new law “does not go far enough” in providing sufficient safeguards for the success of the policy. The government’s plan to transfer certain asylum seekers to Rwanda has faced extensive legal challenges since its announcement in April 2022. Despite the UK Supreme Court ruling the scheme unlawful, successive Home Secretaries have attempted to push it forward.

Jenrick, who serves within the Home Office, expressed his inability to support the latest draft bill through the legislative process, citing the need for stronger protections to prevent ongoing legal challenges that could hinder the scheme and undermine its intended deterrent effect. His resignation letter emphasised the high stakes involved in addressing illegal migration to the UK effectively.

Previously, Jenrick had publicly pledged to take any necessary measures to tackle illegal migration, including the possibility of withdrawing from the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR). Some hardliner lawmakers within the Conservative Party, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, have advocated for the UK’s departure from the ECHR, arguing that it hampers the Rwanda policy.

The government’s newly unveiled legislation did not withdraw the UK from the ECHR but included a crucial caveat. Home Secretary James Cleverley acknowledged on the first page of the bill that he could not guarantee its compatibility with Convention rights. The bill also disallowed specific sections of the UK Human Rights Act, which incorporates ECHR rights into domestic law. Furthermore, a clause asserted the bill’s sovereignty and its independence from key international law instruments, including the ECHR and the Refugee Convention.

The opposition Labour Party strongly criticised the legislation, highlighting that this is the third draft presented by the government. Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper described the government as being in a state of “total chaos” and called for a focus on combating criminal gangs involved in smuggling people into the UK.

Legal experts, including Professor Mark Elliot of the University of Cambridge, have also voiced criticism. Elliot argued that the bill is “hypocritical” as it assumes Rwanda’s compliance with international law obligations to treat asylum seekers humanely while allowing the UK to potentially breach its own obligations.

The Rwandan government issued a warning to the UK, threatening to withdraw from the partnership if the UK fails to adhere to international law. Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta emphasised that without lawful behaviour by the UK, Rwanda would not be able to continue the Migration and Economic Development Partnership.

The next step for the bill is its debate in parliament during the “second reading” stage, where UK lawmakers will discuss its merits and potential implications.


Source: CNN

UK Supreme Court Rejects Contentious Rwanda Migrant Policy, Dealing Blow to Prime Minister Sunak

Uk Supreme Court Rejects Contentious Rwanda Migrant Policy, Dealing Blow To Prime Minister Sunak

The UK Supreme Court rejected the government’s controversial plan to send migrants to Rwanda. The court upheld a previous ruling by the Court of Appeal, declaring the policy unlawful and incompatible with the country’s international obligations.

The five-judge panel unanimously agreed with the lower court’s assessment that sending migrants to Rwanda would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment. The judges concurred with concerns that Rwanda could forcibly return asylum seekers and refugees to their countries of origin, where they might face persecution.

The rejected plan, signed as a deal with Rwanda in April of last year, aimed to establish interim centre’s in Rwanda for undocumented migrants. The initiative sought to address the issue of “illegal” immigration via small boats crossing the English Channel, which the ruling Conservative party considered a pressing concern ahead of the next general election.

The Supreme Court’s decision effectively nullifies the agreement with Rwanda and leaves Prime Minister Sunak’s immigration agenda in disarray. The ruling is also expected to deepen divisions within the Conservative Party between right-wing lawmakers advocating for more assertive measures and moderates seeking a balanced approach.

While acknowledging that the outcome was not desired, Sunak assured that the government had been working on a new treaty with Rwanda, taking into account the court’s judgment. He expressed readiness to revise domestic laws and reconsider international relationships if obstacles persist.

Critics of the Rwanda plan have denounced it as cruel, costly, and difficult to implement. The Rwandan government expressed disagreement with the ruling, asserting that it is a safe third country for migrants.

The UK government contends that the policy is vital to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel from France using unsafe vessels. Although the number of migrants making the journey has decreased this year compared to previous years, it still falls short of Sunak’s commitment to “stop the boats.”

The government argues that reducing both regular and irregular immigration is necessary to alleviate pressure on government-funded services, including healthcare and housing for asylum seekers. The current backlog of asylum cases in the UK stands at 122,585, down 12 percent from the record high in February. Meanwhile, net migration, the difference between people leaving and arriving in the country, reached a record 606,000 last year.

Given the limitations imposed by the Supreme Court’s ruling, the government may explore alternative agreements with other countries to address the issue of “illegal” arrivals. Newly-appointed Interior Minister James Cleverly suggested that other European nations were inclined to follow the UK’s approach.

The decision is likely to reignite calls from right-wing politicians, such as former Interior Minister Suella Braverman, for the UK to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). However, Sunak has thus far refrained from endorsing such a drastic move. Braverman criticized Sunak’s immigration policies, accusing him of betrayal and lacking the necessary resolve.

Deputy Chairman of the Tory party, Lee Anderson, called for defying the laws and immediately deporting migrants upon arrival. He characterized the court ruling as a dark day for the British people and urged the government to proceed with sending migrants to Rwanda.

The main opposition party, Labour, capitalized on the ruling, criticizing Sunak’s perceived lack of a serious plan to address dangerous boat crossings. Labour’s senior MP Yvette Cooper described the plan as unworkable and excessively costly, highlighting the government’s failure to formulate a robust and practical policy.

Migrant advocates welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision, viewing it as a victory for the rights of individuals seeking safety and protection. The Refugee Council expressed satisfaction with the ruling, emphasizing the importance of upholding the rights of men, women, and children fleeing persecution.


Source: ABC News

Rwanda President Kagame Declares Visa-Free Entry for All Africans

Rwanda President Kagame Declares Visa Free Entry For All Africans

In a groundbreaking announcement, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has revealed that the country will now allow visa-free entry for all African nationals. This progressive move aims to enhance the free movement of people and foster increased trade within the continent.

During his address at the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council, President Kagame expressed his belief that Africans hold the key to the future of global tourism. He stated, “Any African can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish, and they will not pay a thing to enter our country.”

Rwanda joins the ranks of Benin, Gambia, and Seychelles as the fourth African nation to implement such a policy. The announcement comes on the heels of Kenya’s President William Ruto’s recent declaration to permit visa-free travel for all Africans by December 31, further emphasizing the growing momentum towards open borders within the region.

President Ruto, speaking at an international summit in the Republic of Congo, highlighted the detrimental effects of visa restrictions on African countries. He emphasized that such limitations hinder the mobility of businesspeople and entrepreneurs, ultimately resulting in collective loss for the continent.

The decision by Rwanda and Kenya to open their doors to visa-free travel for Africans signifies a significant step towards fostering greater continental unity and economic integration. As more nations embrace this progressive approach, it is expected to pave the way for increased tourism, trade, and cultural exchange within Africa, ultimately benefiting the entire continent.

Rwanda Shuts Down Diesel Power Plants, Expands Hydroelectricity and Methane Gas Sources

Rwanda has made significant strides in its energy sector by closing down all diesel power plants in June of this year. The country has successfully expanded its hydroelectricity and methane gas sources, allowing these renewable energy sources to make a substantial contribution to the national grid.

Infrastructure Minister Jimmy Gasore announced in a recent media interview that two new power plants, the Rusumo Hydro Project and Shema Power Lake Kivu Ltd, have been inaugurated. This development has facilitated the decommissioning of diesel power plants.

The Rusumo Hydro Project, a joint initiative shared by Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, is expected to generate 80MW upon full operation. Each country will receive approximately 26.6MW of electricity from the project. Shema Power Lake Kivu Ltd is a methane gas power plant aimed at generating 56MW.

Prior to the closure of the diesel power plants, Rwanda had five such facilities, which accounted for 26.76 percent of the country’s total electricity generation. Additionally, Rwanda had four thermal power plants utilizing alternative fuels like methane and peat, collectively generating 51 percent of the country’s electricity. However, these thermal power plants are expected to play a reduced role with the rise of renewable energy sources.

Diesel power plants were deemed expensive to operate due to high fuel consumption. Felix Gakuba, the Managing Director of the Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), stated in an earlier interview that the diesel plants would be phased out once the Rusumo Hydro Project became operational.

With the expansion of renewable energy sources, the government aims to lower electricity prices in the near future. Gasore encouraged the use of electric vehicles, emphasizing that Rwanda has enough electricity to meet the demand, as it is not reliant on imports from countries like Saudi Arabia or Russia, as is the case with petroleum products.

Furthermore, Rwanda has plans to harness solar energy. The country has a significant solar energy potential, with approximately 4.5 kWh per m2 per day and five peak sun hours. Currently, Rwanda has a total on-grid installed solar capacity of 12.230 MW from five solar power plants.

The Rwandan government intends to increase the number of solar power plants to reduce production costs and take advantage of the abundant renewable energy sources available within the country. These developments signify Rwanda’s commitment to a sustainable and greener energy future.


Source: The Newtimes Rwanda