Inauguration of the New Amahoro Stadium: A Propaganda Tool for the Kagame Regime?

On Saturday, June 29, 2024, the Rwandan Ministry of Sports released a statement announcing the official inauguration of the Amahoro Stadium by the President of the Republic, Paul Kagame. This event is scheduled for Monday, July 1, 2024, and will feature a football match between APR FC and Police FC, competing for the “Amahoro Stadium Inauguration Trophy.” The match will begin at 5:00 PM, with the stadium gates opening at 11:00 AM and closing at 3:00 PM. Tickets are available starting today, with further details to follow.

Initially, the inauguration was planned for July 4, 2024, on the anniversary of the liberation of Kigali by the RPF forces in 1994. The first inauguration of the stadium took place on July 1, 1987, by President Juvénal Habyarimana. Renovation work, which began in early 2022, cost 160 billion Rwandan francs. The renovated stadium now has a capacity of 45,000 spectators. The renovations were carried out by the Turkish company Summa and the Rwandan firm Real Contractors, a subsidiary of Crystal Ventures Ltd, owned by the ruling RPF-Inkotanyi party.

On June 15, 2024, during an evening marking the partial opening of the renovated stadium, many Rwandans expressed their joy at entering the new Amahoro Stadium for the first time. However, the access was chaotic, with significant overcrowding. This event, named “Ihuriro mu Mahoro,” featured a football match between Rayon Sports and APR FC, ending in a 0-0 draw. Poor organization led to incidents, with some supporters getting injured in the commotion.

Although the results of the elections scheduled for July 15, 2024, are hardly in doubt, with an expected victory for Paul Kagame, this inauguration is seen by observers as a regime-orchestrated show of popularity to counter growing criticism, both national and international, regarding President Kagame’s governance.