Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
The process of judging perpetrators of the 1994 genocide neared completion in 2009 as the traditional gacaca courts officially concluded their work. The government arrested the leader of a rebel group from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo in January, despite claims that it continued to support the group. Meanwhile, as Rwanda moved toward a presidential election in 2010, the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front seemed to step up its already tight control over civic and political life, particularly limiting press freedom.
With considerable international aid, Rwanda has improved earnings from coffee exports and increased grain and potato production, helping to sustain an economic growth rate of nearly 8 percent. Economic development, however, has been unevenly distributed.
Rwanda is not an electoral democracy. International observers have noted that the 2003 presidential and 2003 and 2008 parliamentary elections, while administratively acceptable, presented Rwandans with only a limited degree of political choice. The 2003 constitution grants broad powers to the president, who can serve up to two seven-year terms and has the authority to appoint the prime minister and dissolve the bicameral Parliament. The 26-seat upper house, the Senate, consists of 12 members elected by regional councils, eight appointed by the president, four chosen by a forum of political parties, and two representatives of universities, all serving eight-year terms. The Chamber of Deputies, or lower house, includes 53 directly elected members, 24 women chosen by local councils, and three members chosen by youth and disability groups. All serve five-year terms.