Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza (born 3 October 1968) is a Rwandan politician. She is the Chairperson of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties with a large base of active members in Rwanda, Europe, United States of America and in Canada. She has been elected by the political council of her party as the official candidate for the next presidential election in Rwanda in August 2010.
Family and career
Married and a mother of three, she trained in commercial law and accounting and graduated in business economics and corporate management in the Netherlands. Victoire worked as an official of an international accounting firm based in the Netherlands where she was in charge of its accounting departments in 25 branches in Europe, Asia and Africa. In April 2009, she resigned from her function to dedicate herself to a political career and to prepare her return to her homeland and, as the head of her political party, to contribute to rebuilding of her country. On 17 January 2010, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza returned to her country, after 16 years in exile, as the main leader of the Rwandan political opposition.
Since 1997, Umuhoza has been involved in the struggle of the Rwandan political opposition in exile. Her objective is to introduce to her country the rule of law and a constitutional state where international democratic standards are respected, where patriotism will at last be the cornerstone for all public institutions and as well as in all aspect of life in Rwanda. Her political activities are centered around the idea of a state of justice where individuals choose their associations based on their shared political aspirations rather than their ethnic or regional background.
In 1997, Umuhoza joined the Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda. A year later, she became the President of its Netherlands branch and in 2000, she was nominated President of RDR at the international level.
From 2003 to 2006, she occupied the post of President of the Union of Rwandan Democratic Forces UFDR (french: Union des Forces Démocratiques Rwandaises), the main coalition of political opposition parties and personalities in exile, of which RDR is an active member.
Umuhoza, after 16 years in exile in the Netherlands, returned to her native country on January 17, 2010, with the intention to register her political party FDU in order to participate in the August 2010 presidential elections.
Unification of the democratic opposition The fight for a unified political opposition in exile dominated her political career. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) continued to monopolize power in Kigali, criminalizing, persecuting or co-opting any resistance. Inside the country, opposition to the RPF-led regime in Rwanda is almost non-existent. Only diaspora-based associations were able to mount an opposition attempt to Kagame regime but divisions and political rivalries in diaspora did not make this possible. In favor of fundamental change and reconciliation, she gradually changed the pace of the struggle towards a unified opposition with peaceful means to stand up to the challenge of offering to Rwandans an alternative to Paul Kagame’s regime.
- In November 2004, in Amsterdam, Netherlands she organized a conference known as the “Forum on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development in the Great Lakes Region” which was followed by the Amsterdam Initiative with the aim to create the new platform for cooperation.
- In October 2005, Victoire initiated contacts with other opposition organizations and organized an all-inclusive meeting for all Rwandan civil society associations and political parties. A consensus of common front against Paul Kagame’s regime was finally reached.
- Starting from April 2006, she participated in the creation of the United Democratic Forces (FDU) and was elected President of the political platform. FDU has a goal to install the rule of law in Rwanda, underpinned by the respect of democratic values enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights and other international instruments relating to democracy and good governance.
- Victoire actively participated in Highly Inclusive Inter-Rwandan Dialogue (HIIRD) project in Barcelona, Spain in 2004, 2006  and in April – May 2009  under the auspice of Mr. Juan Carrero Saralegui, the Peace Nobel Prize candidate  and of Mr. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Peace Nobel Prize and Mr. Federico Mayor Zaragoza, the Vice-president of the Alliance of Civilization.
She proposed following emblematic reforms calling for change in daily life of all Rwandans and the way they relate to politics: Creation of a Committee of Truth, Justice and Reconciliation to help Rwandans towards true reconciliation; Introduction of a non-political commission in charge of rewriting and interpretation of the actual history of Rwanda; The passing of a bill for the right to private ownership and for protection of the weakest members of the public, for the guarantee by the law of equal opportunity and access to credit and employment for all citizens.
One month after she arrived back in Rwanda, together with other two political opposition party leaders already in the country, she formed a Permanent Consultative Council of Opposition Parties, putting together their efforts to widen the political space for the opposition parties and to strengthen the democratic process in Rwanda.