Rwanda Election: Paul Kagame Set To Extend Rule

Lester Mason
August 5, 2017

Paul Kagame, Rwanda's order-obsessed president, is fond of palm trees.

About seven million people were registered to vote in Friday's elections to pick a president who will lead the country for the next seven years.

Preliminary results should be released later Friday, the government said via Twitter. "People are not bothered".

Kagame was just 36 when he became Rwanda's de-facto leader after the genocide.

The 59-year-old president has been praised for the country's economic growth, but human rights groups accuse his government of using state powers to silence opponents.

Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of the Rwandan electoral commission, told CNN that Rwigara gathered more than 900 signatures, but most were "forged", leading to her disqualification.

There are three presidential contenders, incumbent President Paul Kagame of the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.

On Friday Rwandans will go through the motions of a presidential election the outcome of which is known to all.

He pointed to a constitutional amendment after a referendum in 2015 that allows him to stay in power until 2034. Despite media frenzy at the polling station, Kagame did not offer any interview. "Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept". "He says he has built an economic lion, when Rwanda is a midget in the region", Himbara said.

In Rwanda, a history of political repression and attacks on dissidents "stifles political debate and makes those who might speak out think twice before taking the risk", Amnesty International wrote recently in a report.

Although the country has more than 10 opposition parties, Kagame will face competition mainly from the Democratic Green Party and an independent candidate.

Critics argue the successes of Kagame's tenure have come at a high cost for civil society. "We need a change before it is too late".

"By extending his 23 years in power, Kagame is denying Rwandans an opportunity to experience the first-ever peaceful transition of power in their country".

Kagame is expected to win with a landslide victory to rule the east African country for the third seven-year term.

It's a place where all state employees post their supervisor's cellphone outside their office, and public officials are fired if they don't meet the stated goals in their performance contracts. Police last week arrested the mayor of the western district of Rubavu, Jeremie Sinamenye, over allegations that he and some of his staff prevented voters from attending Mpayimana's rallies.

Still, the election in Rwanda stands in stark contrast with what is happening in nearby Kenya, where citizens are set to vote next week after vibrant campaigning by candidates.

In 2010, his deputy's body was found not far from the Burundi border, partially beheaded.

That killing followed the shooting death of newspaper journalist Jean-Leonard Rugambage, whose tabloid had been suspended by Rwandan authorities.

Habineza said he expects a clean sweep at the polls.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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