Third presidential term for Rwanda’s Kagame


Incumbent leader Paul Kagame swept to a landslide victory in Rwanda’s presidential election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power, final results showed.

Kagame has won international praise for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

He has also faced mounting criticism for what human rights groups say are widespread abuses, muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.

The 59-year-old former guerrilla leader secured 98.63% of Friday’s vote, according to a final tally released by the National Electoral Commission.

The board said turnout topped 96.42% in the country of 12 million people, in an election that fielded a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza and an independent.

Addressing supporters on Saturday, Kagame said he would work to sustain economic growth.
“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure we become real Rwandans who are economically developing,” he said in a speech broadcast on television.
“What I saw during campaigns is the decision to continue to lead you drew criticism mainly by foreigners but this proves the referendum was for real purpose.”

Under his rule, some dissidents were killed after fleeing abroad, in still unsolved cases. Government denies any involvement.

Kagame, a commander who led Tutsi rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide, banned the use of tribal terms after becoming president.

He won the last election in 2010 with 93% of the vote and said during this campaign for a further seven-year term he again expected an outright victory.

Habineza, who won 0.47%, promised to set up a tribunal to retry dissidents whose convictions by Rwandan courts were criticised as politically motivated.

After the vote, he said some of his party’s observers were obstructed in carrying out their work. Habineza’s accusations did not amount to foul play.
“We sent over 500 observers and some were denied entry. When vote counting started, some of our observers were behind closed doors,” he told a news conference, before congratulating Kagame on his win.

Charles Munyaneza, electoral board executive secretary, told reporters the body did not receive any complaints.

Another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, was disqualified by the election board despite her insistence she met all the requirements to run.

Some voters celebrated the election result into the early hours, said John Habimana, owner of the Roasty Bar in Kigali.
“Last night was fantastic. People kept coming in until my bar had more than 200 people. I usually get 100 on normal days. They were all celebrating. I left at 2am but they were still dancing and more were coming,” he said.

Other residents were less happy.
“I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said a man in Kigali who asked not to be named.