Power sharing | IRDP

Power sharing

In democratic societies, power is owned by the people who use it through vote casting and institutional control. The constitution considered as a social agreement determines the way institutions are organised and ensures the balance of power so as to avoid arbitrary power. Power is shared among these institutions in such a way that each one of them corrects or compensates what the other is lacking. Montesquieu uses the expression “power is controlled by power”.

With the adoption of the June 4, 2003 constitution, the Rwandan government has chosen inclusive participation. This supreme law determines some criteria relating to power sharing among political parties, men and women proportion, regional distribution with regard to the number of seats in the Senate and ensuring “national unity”.

Article 60 of the Constitution determines power distribution among the three main powers that is, the legislative, executive and the judiciary. According to this article, these three powers are separate but they complement each other.

However, despite the wisdom and the perspicacity of the current Constitution which matches with the post genocide context and requirements, some groups of Rwandans consulted by the IRDP believe that the power sharing criteria does not contribute to the emergence of real opposition political parties. Indeed, the political parties taking part in the power sharing and control process cannot give critical opinions to the regime.

Moreover, the Rwandan context shows that power sharing in Rwanda has always been a big problem. During the monarchy period, the King ruled and decided alone. Later on, the colonial power gave power to elite Tutsi without taking into account equity and power sharing principles and mechanisms. The decree of the Rwanda Urundi Governor Mortehan in 1921 legalised the exclusion of Hutu and Twa from power.

The fight for independence was characterised essentially by political and ethnic conflicts between Hutu elite and Tutsis. The democracy concept was purposely confused with ethnic majority and encouraged revenge as well as the exclusion of Tutsis from the management of public affairs.

Various constitutions were produced since Kayibanda and Habyarimana regimes but they did not guarantee strong democratic processes to reach power through peaceful means. The latter is and remains the best way for a small group of people who are close to the leaders to become rich.

This observation reminds us of the urgent need to think deeply about the mechanisms to ensure the most consensual, and peaceful power sharing deal.

The following questions were raised quite often during the research process :

Is the power sharing principle as described in the Constitution a guarantee of social and political stability in the country ? Who is responsible for power sharing as far as the principles mentioned in the Constitution are concerned ? How relevant and effective are the criteria stated in the Constitution with regard to the current and future political stability ? What are the strategies to ensure efficient power sharing criteria ?

Summary of the research report (Table of contents, introduction, recommendations, conclusion)

Institut de recherche et de Dialogue pour la Paix