A new opposition party is born in Rwanda. This is a rare event in the country’s political landscape, which is largely dominated by the RPF, the party of President Paul Kagame. The birth of the Rwandan Platform for Democracy (RPD) was announced Thursday, March 18, at an online press conference by its founder, Christopher Kayumba, a former university professor and journalist recently released from prison.
In Rwanda, Christopher Kayumba was previously known as the man behind The Chronicles, an online newspaper critical of government policy, but also for his legal woes. In December 2019, he was accused of causing a disturbance at Kigali airport and drunkenness on the public highway. He was then sentenced to one year in prison.
At the time, his relatives denounced a smear campaign against him. Last February, two months after his release, he published an open letter addressed to President Paul Kagame in which he criticized the management of the Covid-19 crisis, denounced problems in the judicial system, and alluded to cases of torture and illegal detention centers.
Today, he presents his new party as a forum to promote a “more developed, free and democratic” Rwanda. No details yet on the identity and number of other members of the platform. The next step is to apply for registration with the Rwandan authorities. “We are optimistic, our laws guarantee a multi-party system,” he says.