By Staff

Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies

2007 Political Forecast

 

Judiciary: saturated with genocide case load

 

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), set up to try genocide suspects, will begin the transfer of cases to national jurisdiction from Arusha later this year, and GLCSS predicts that this will saturate Rwanda’s national courts in 2007

 

The tribunal’s mandate expires in 2008 and it has been suggested that the remaining indictments and trials will be forwarded to national jurisdiction. The Security Council Resolution 1503 (2003) called on member states to assist in developing the capacity of those states willing to accept such cases, but up to now there has been little progress. Rwanda remains the only country in Africa ready to take cases from the ICTR.

 

Measures have been set up by Rwanda in preparation for taking over cases. The government is reviewing the option of abolishing capital punishment and trying to adopt international law, which favors life sentence instead of the death penalty. Some officials have said capital punishment hinders the realization of the country’s major pillars of government, notably unity and reconciliation, promotion of good governance, and respect of human rights.

 

Rwanda has raised concerns about the outsourcing of the trials of those defendants whom the ICTR will not be able to judge in time, arguing that trials should take place as close as possible to when the crimes have been committed. Rwanda has started preparations to take over cases – including a special task force to facilitate the transfers – and has also upgraded a detention facility at Mpanga and is now engaged in reforming its penal code.

Killings of genocide survivors and witnesses decrease

 

The Great Lakes Center for Strategic Studies forecasts that the killing of genocide survivors and Gacaca witnesses will decrease during 2007 due to preventative action on the part of the Rwandan government. Rwanda has set up a commission against genocide and the parliamentarians have passed a bill creating an anti-genocide body. Cabinet approved the bill in April last year and since then it has been under debate in both the Chamber of Deputies and in the Senate.

 

An estimated 800,000 perished in the 100-day 1994 Rwanda Genocide, and scores of survivors and Gacaca witnesses have been killed in the recent past at the hands of genocide suspects. The latest report of the principal organization for human rights, the Rwandan League for the Promotion and the Defense of Human Rights (LIPRODHOR) pointed out that real or potential witnesses were victims of diverse forms of threats and intimidation and some have been murdered.

 

The trials for genocide suspects by the traditional Gacaca communal courts will end in 2007. The National Service of Gacaca Courts (NSGC) will require an increase in the number of courts in each sector and this may increase the process, although some delays are still likely.

 

The success of the commission in handling the consequences of genocide will not only speed up trials but also reconcile and strengthen unity among Rwandans and prove the Rwandan society’s capacity to solve its own problems.

2007 will see Rwandans giving more attention to homegrown conflict resolution initiatives and they will continue to promote such initiatives as Gacaca courts, mediation committees and performance contracts.

 

Diplomatic relations continue to improve

 

Rwanda will continue promoting relations with its neighbors and other nations aimed at promoting regional and international economic cooperation. The efforts undertaken by Rwanda in terms of cooperation forecast an extended good relationship not only with neighboring countries but also with western countries. 

  

Rwanda joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2006 and this has been a significant achievement after nearly ten years of effort.  The integration reinforces cooperation and diplomatic ties with Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi and signals a pull to the anglophone east.

 

Rwanda and Uganda are enjoying improved relations after Rwanda joined the EAC. At the end of 2006, officials from both Rwanda and Uganda decided to revive previous mechanisms and set up new confidence-building measures to normalize their relationship. Both countries promoted the normalization of relations for political, security and economic interests.

 

Authorities from both countries confirmed that relations between the two neighbors are stable and will show signs of significant improvement as Rwanda pushes for Commonwealth membership at the Commonwealth Summit in Kampala. In addition, diplomatic relations between Rwanda and the United States will continue their steady improvement based on Rwanda’s newly established status as a Millennium Challenge Account Threshold country. This will increase funding support for Rwanda in key development areas and open up the possibility of increased military cooperation.

 

The impact of Rwanda’s entry into the Commonwealth and improved relationship with the United States will be another factor in cementing a cooperative relationship with Burundi, which will benefit from economic development to the north and open trade to the east.  In addition, GLCSS now believes the 2006 political disturbances in Burundi will have a minimal effect on Rwanda.

2007 Economic Forecast

Continued economic growth

 

The improved economic stability prevailing in Rwanda will keep increasing during next year. Business regulation reform and greater integration into regional and international market undertaken by the country are the key factors in improvement.

 

Expansion is being driven by new investment policies and incentives conducive to investment promotion. The largest business growth sectors are energy, infrastructure, and agriculture.

 

Rwanda holds deposits of methane gas in Lake Kivu and plans to establish a new hydroelectric power station. The venture will resolve the energy crisis that has hit the country in the recent past. The extraction of 40MW of methane gas from Lake Kivu and integration of the Electrogaz power grid by the end of next year would lower the tariff, which remains high.

 

The additional 40 MW power supply will allow Rwanda to explore increased manufacturing or product-assembly opportunities. It will also decrease its expenditure on diesel fuel to power its thermal generators, thereby decreasing the energy-related budget strain.

 

The business sectors of aviation, pharmaceutical plant establishment, printing and publishing, banking and insurance will also expand in 2007. The number of investing companies should then pass 1000 as the economy continues to develop.

 

Although Rwanda was identified among 155 countries as one of the world’s top business climate reformers, it still needs even more efficient business regulation to help entrepreneurs and encourage large private sector projects.

 

The export front will show remarkable achievements due to the performance of agriculture. Coffee exports will increase, supported by tea, horticulture, floriculture and herbal products and pyrethrum. The latter could foster agro-based manufacturing that will not only create farm employment but also add value to agricultural produce, hence fetching higher returns on local, regional and international markets.

 

Entry to the EAC means Rwanda has joined a market of about 110 million people and the dynamics of investing into this growing institution will bring great dividends to any investor. Rwanda is already a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and its free trade area. Moreover, it is benefiting from various blocs like the Economic Community for Central African States (ECCAS), and the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).

 

The situation described above will foster a smooth economic situation, allowing sustained growth. Rwanda will enjoy success in maintaining better real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), inflation, domestic revenues, debt and external trade as well as in the fiscal sector. 

 

This economic performance and progress will be sustained by policies already set up as well as fiscal discipline implanted throughout different sectors of the country. Fiscal discipline has strengthened and is likely to remain strong during next year.

 

The computerization of the tax collection process and the increased capacity-building initiatives, as well as administrative reforms carried out by the authorities in previous years, will sustain tax performance. The situation described above could enable Rwanda to hit its Growth Domestic Product (GDP) target of 7 percent.

William Church is director of the Great Lakes Centre for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank with offices in Central and East Africa. You may contact William Church atwchurch@glcss.org”>wchurch@glcss.org. GLCSS trains African journalists, offers an on-siteinternship to foreign African studies students, and manages an exchange program withjournalists from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe.

 

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