Rwanda’s Kagame wins in landslide

Incumbent Paul Kagame won 93 per cent
of the votes, according to the electoral commission, in a Rwandan presidential
election that opponents said was marred by repression and violence.

Kagame, widely lauded for rebuilding
Rwanda and establishing peace in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, won the
last election in 2003 by a similar margin.

“We are very happy with the
conduct of the electoral process, from the campaign to the voting itself. We
did not get reports of intimidation from anywhere,” said Charles
Munyaneza, executive secretary of the electoral body.

The vote count is provisional
pending its signing-off by the Supreme Court. Turnout for Monday’s election was
more than 95 per cent in all the nation’s five provinces.

Kagame’s nearest rival, Jean
Damascene Ntawukuliryayo of the Social Democratic Party, won 5 perc ent.
Prosper Higiro of the Liberal Party garnered just over 1 per cent and Alvera
Mukabaramba of the Party for Peace and Concord 0.4 per cent.

Opponents said the other candidates
were a democratic smokescreen and stooges of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front
(RPF). They also said the campaign playing field had been uneven, with three
would-be opposition candidates prevented from registering to contest the
ballot.

One of them, Victoire Ingabire,
head of the United Democratic Forces party who faces charges of funding rebels
in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo and espousing genocide ideology,
rejected the result.

“People were not free to vote.
They take all measures to threaten opposition; they take all measures to
prevent people voting freely. Why don’t they give him 100 per cent?” she
said.

Kagame has been in control of the
land-locked nation of 10 million people since his rebel army swept to power in
the aftermath of the genocide of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in
1994.

Despite being poor in natural
resources, Rwanda is a rising star in Africa for donors and investors with
Kagame feted as a visionary leader and African icon. The International Monetary
Fund forecasts its economy will expand by an average of 6 percent in the medium
term.

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