United Democratic Forces of Rwanda

Last updated
United Democratic Forces of Rwanda
Forces Democratiques Unifiées
Chairperson Justin Bahunga
Founded29 April 2006
Ideology Liberal democracy
ColorsRed, green

The United Democratic Forces of Rwanda (UDF-Inkingi; Inkingi is the Kinyarwanda word for “pillar. French : Forces Democratiques Unifiées, FDU-INKINGI) is a coalition of Rwandan opposition groups. Since its foundation in 2006, the UDF-Inkingi has profiled itself as an opposition party whose main objective is to change the regime of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), which has been in power since the end of the genocide against the Tutsis in July 1994. To this day, despite multiple attempts to become officially registered in Rwanda, the UDF-Inkingi has not yet been authorised to operate in Rwanda as a party. According to international human rights bodies, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, UDF-Inkingi members inside Rwanda have been regularly subjected to persecution and even to murder, mostly non-elucidated. [1] [2]



The party was established on 29 April 2006 as an alliance of the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda (RDR), Action for Impartial International Justice in Rwanda, the Democratic Forces for Resistance and the Rwandan Democratic Alliance, with RDR leader Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza elected President of the UDF. [3]

Having been formed in exile, the alliance's leadership returned to Rwanda in January 2010 and applied to be registered in order to field candidates in the presidential elections later in the year. However, the alliance was prevented from registering and Ingabire was arrested. [4]

The departure of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza to Rwanda and her management of party activities from there provoked a split in 2010 amongst UDF-Inkingi members who remained in exile in Europe. The majority faction, which pledged allegiance to Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s leadership, even from behind bars, kept the name UDF-Inkingi, whereas the minority faction, which advocated a new Europe-based leadership, took the name of UDF-National Movement Inkubiri.

In 2011, as the RPF witnessed defections amongst its most senior military officers and political figures who used to be very close to President Paul Kagame, the UDF-Inkingi formed an alliance with RPF dissidents who had started their own party, namely, the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), spearheaded by former army chief-of-staff Kayumba Nyamwasa and presidential cabinet director, doctor Theogene Rusasingwa. Later the alliance expanded to include five parties in total.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza was UDF-Inkingi chairwoman since its foundation in 2006 until 2019 when, just a few months after her release from jail following a presidential pardon, she started a new party, the Development and Liberty for All (DALFA-Umurinzi). [5] For 13 years, she was the face and voice of the UDF-Inkingi, including during the eight years (2010–2018) that she spent in jail. Her trial drew a lot of international media attention and encountered multiple bombshells, including the time when some of the prosecutor’s witnesses contradicted themselves in court or denounced police ill-treatment that was meant to extort false testimony, [6] and when Dutch authorities authorised the search of Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s home in order to obtain evidence for the Rwandan court. [7]

After Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza’s resignation from the UDF-Inkingi in November 2019, the party elected Justin Bahunga, a former diplomat, as chairman for a two-year term. During the official launching of her new party, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza told her party’s members and the press that the difference between the DALFA-Umurinzi and the UDF-Inkingi was that the former, unlike the latter, had been set up following Rwanda’s laws. However, her detractors, who make use of the pro-government press, maintain that the two organisations have the same ideals and ideology, and that creating the party brought nothing new except for a new name. [8]


According to several human rights organisations and diplomatic missions to Rwanda, UDF-members are regularly the victims of harassment, arbitrary arrests, never-elucidated disappearances and even murder. Amnesty International cited numerous cases, including that of Illuminée Iragema who has been missing since 2016, and the cases of Jean Damascène Habarugira and Syldio Dusabumuremyi who were murdered in 2017 and 2018 respectively, and that of Boniface Twagirimana, UDF-Inkingi vice-chairman, whose alleged escape from the Mpanga maximum-security prison prompts many to think that it was in fact a well-planned abduction by secret services. [9]

Related Research Articles

Juvénal Habyarimana 2nd President of Rwanda from 1973 until assassinated in 1994

Juvénal Habyarimana was a Rwandan politician and military officer who served as the second president of Rwanda, from 1973 until 1994. He was nicknamed "Kinani", a Kinyarwanda word meaning "invincible".

Paul Kagame President of Rwanda since 2000

Paul Kagame is a Rwandan politician and former military leader. He is the sixth and current president of Rwanda, having taken office in 2000. Kagame previously commanded the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a Uganda-based rebel force which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and was one of the parties of the conflict during the Rwandan Civil War and the armed force which ended the Rwandan genocide. He was considered Rwanda's de facto leader when he served as Vice President and Minister of Defence under President Pasteur Bizimungu from 1994 to 2000.

Rwandan genocide 1994 genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda

The Rwandan genocide occurred between 7 April and 15 July 1994 during the Rwandan Civil War. During this period of around 100 days, members of the Tutsi minority ethnic group, as well as some moderate Hutu and Twa, were slaughtered by armed militias. The most widely accepted scholarly estimates are around 500,000 to 800,000 Tutsi deaths. Estimates for the total death toll are as high as 1,100,000.

Faustin Twagiramungu

Faustin Twagiramungu is a Rwandan politician. He was Prime Minister from 1994 until his resignation in 1995, the first head of government appointed after the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) captured Kigali. He then exiled himself to Belgium.

Mahamane Ousmane 20th and 21st-century Nigerien President and politician

Mahamane Ousmane is a Nigerien politician. He was the first democratically elected and fourth President of Niger, serving from 16 April 1993 until he was deposed in a military coup d'état on 27 January 1996. He has continued to run for president in each election since his ousting, and he was president of the National Assembly from December 1999 to May 2009. Since April 2020, he is the president of the Democratic and Republican Renewal, a major political party that is currently in opposition. RDR Tchanji formed an alliance with Ousmane's other political vehicle, MNRD Hankuri, on 16 December 2018.

Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda Political party

The Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda, also known as the Rassemblement Démocratique pour la Retour, is an unregistered Rwandan political party. Its stated goal is to establish a democratic and free Rwandan Republic. RDR current president is Mrs Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza.

2003 Rwandan presidential election Election of Paul Kagame as President of Rwanda

Presidential elections were held in Rwanda on 25 August 2003. They were the first direct presidential elections since the Rwandan Civil War and the first multi-party presidential elections in the country's history. Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was elected to a seven-year term with 95% of the vote.

Rwandan Civil War 1990–1994 conflict in Rwanda

The Rwandan Civil War was a large-scale civil war in Rwanda which was fought between the Rwandan Armed Forces, representing the country's government, and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) from 1 October 1990 to 18 July 1994. The war arose from the long-running dispute between the Hutu and Tutsi groups within the Rwandan population. A 1959–1962 revolution had replaced the Tutsi monarchy with a Hutu-led republic, forcing more than 336,000 Tutsi to seek refuge in neighbouring countries. A group of these refugees in Uganda founded the RPF which, under the leadership of Fred Rwigyema and Paul Kagame, became a battle-ready army by the late 1980s.

Human rights in Rwanda

Human rights in Rwanda have been violated on a grand scale. The greatest violation is the Rwandan genocide of Tutsi in 1994. The post-genocide government is also responsible for grave violations of human rights.

2010 Rwandan presidential election Re-election of President Paul Kagame

Presidential elections were held in Rwanda on 9 August 2010, the second since the Rwandan Civil War. Incumbent President Paul Kagame of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was re-elected for a second seven-year term with 93% of the vote.

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza

Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza is a Rwandan politician and chairperson of a new political party - Development And Liberty For All (DALFA-Umurinzi) with the focus to campaign for more political space and for development. Previously, she was the president of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF), a coalition of Rwandan exile opposition groups with a large base of active members in Rwanda, Europe, United States of America and in Canada. She was UDF party candidate for Rwanda's August 2010 presidential elections, but was ultimately arrested and sentenced to prison. A Sakharov Prize nominee, she served 8 years of a 15-year prison sentence in Kigali Central Prison on charges of terrorism and threatening national security.

C. Peter Erlinder is an American lawyer, originally from Chicago, who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was Lead Defence Counsel for the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and has represented several clients internationally, most notably several Rwandan opposition leaders, including Rwandan Presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire.

The following lists events that happened during 2010 in Rwanda.

Kizito Mihigo was a Rwandan gospel singer, songwriter, organist, composer of sacred music, television presenter, genocide survivor, and peace and reconciliation activist. Kizito was an iconic activist who dedicated his life to healing the souls of his fellow genocide survivors and rebuilding unity and reconciliation in Rwanda. According to Kisito's words, published on Kizitomihigo.com, he claimed, "The objective of my works is to console and strengthen the wounded hearts, singing peace and forgiveness." His ultimate performance in healing and Peacebuilding started in 2010 when he created the Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to his cause.

The Kizito Mihigo Peace Foundation, also called KMP Foundation, is a Rwandan non-governmental organization created in 2010 by the Rwandan gospel musician Kizito Mihigo. The foundation's main objective is to promote peace and reconciliation after the 1994 genocide.

Ishema Party is a Rwandan political movement founded by Rev. Father Thomas Nahimana and other young Rwandan activists and scholars.Among these, we can recall Mrs Nadine Claire KASINGE, Mr Chaste GAHUNDE, Mr Venant NKURUNZIZA,inter alia. They all met in Paris and for three days, they exchanged on issues facing Rwanda and possible consequences. In conclusion, they decided to start a new political party. That is how Ishema Party was born.

Diane Shima Rwigara is a Rwandan businesswoman and accountant who stood as an independent candidate in the 2017 Rwandan presidential election. Rwigara was charged on 23 September 2017, alongside her mother and four other defendants, with "inciting insurrection" among other counts, but was acquitted along with her mother on 6 December 2018.

Marie Thérèse Mukamulisa is a Rwandan jurist who was appointed to a six-year term on the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights in 2016.

Since the end of the Rwandan Civil War, many forms of censorship have been implemented in Rwanda

<i>In Praise of Blood</i> Non-fiction book by Judi Rever

In Praise of Blood: The Crimes of the Rwandan Patriotic Front is a 2018 non-fiction book by Canadian journalist Judi Rever and published by Random House of Canada; it has also been translated into Dutch and French. The book describes alleged war crimes by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Rwanda's ruling political party, during its ascent to power in the 1990s.


  1. "Everything you need to know about human rights in Rwanda". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  2. "World Report 2020: Rights Trends in Rwanda". Human Rights Watch. 2019-12-10. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  3. Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda New Times, 3 October 2007
  4. Freedom in the World 2011: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties, Freedom House, p559
  5. "Rwandan opposition leader launches new political party". The East African. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  6. "MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Rwanda, the case of Victoire Ingabire". www.europarl.europa.eu. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  7. "Police raid Rwanda opposition leader's Dutch home". DutchNews.nl. 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  8. "From RDR to DALFA-Umurinzi: Why Victoire Ingabire has never changed". The New Times | Rwanda. 2019-11-15. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  9. "Rwanda's stabbed opposition politician Syldio Dusabumuremyi must get justice". www.amnesty.org. Retrieved 2020-10-22.