In honor of Jacob Srebanize coming to my university, Western Illinois University, to give the University Theme Lecture, I read up on the Rwanda constitution. And from a participatory democracy point of view, it and its development, has blogworthy features.
I presume that all the readers know of the horrible features of the genocide involving Hutu and Tutsi tribes. Political parties are prohibited from "basing themselves on race, ethnic group, tribe, clan, region, sex ... or any other division which\may give rise to discrimination." Yet sadly, this clause was used to suppress other parties, There is a provision where the Senate can lodge a complaint against a political organization with the High Court and appealable to the Supreme Court, and they can dissolve the organization. If this happens, all their members of parliament lose their term.
Interestingly enough both the Chamber of Deputies and senate have reserved seats.
- women (24 out of 79 deputies)] 30 percent of the senate
- two members of the Deputies elected by the National YOuth councel
- One deputy representing the disabled.
- four members elected from a group of political parties. the constitution provides for this organization
- two reserved positions for faculty members
The "P)resident of the republic" may call a referendum. We saw this in use in Iceland relating to the bailout of the banks.
Gawanga cites Kirsti Samuels in that after the break from a conflict or authority, there are likely to be participatory constitution making processes and these helpful in legitimizing the constitution and bring the citizen ry together.
Article 45, "Every citizen have the right to participate in the governance of the country, whether directly or through freely chosen represenatives.."
Acorcding to Gasamagera, the creation of the Constitution was done with much consultation with the citizenry (through questionnaires) and with input from civil society. In fact the limitations on parties was done on the basis of the "people's wish" in response to the genocide. They simply did not want political parties. Also,the provisions regarding women having 30 per cent of the seats was put in at the people's request. and at the time of writing Rwawnda has 49% of its parliament women and is the highest in the world.
Also western advisors on constitutions were rejected, because the constitution should be developed by the people.
Participatory democracy is used to deal with genocide trial, 825,000 cases, which could not be managed by conventional means. The term is GACACA.
Gamasara also mentions the participatory democracy aspects of designing the flag, national anthem and national logo.
- to be blogged later, Kirsti Samuesl 2006, Paradoxes and Compromises in the design of Post Conflict constitutions Research Partnership in Postwar State building, website at http://state-building.org
- The Constitution Making Process in Rwanda: Lessons to be Learned by Senator Gasamagera Wellars, Senator at the seventh Global Forum for Reinventing Governmment, Vienna 26-29 June 20067
- Constitution of Rwanda
- Wikipedia Article on Rwandan Constitution