Rwan­dans cel­e­brate Kagame’s land­slide poll win

Pres­i­dent could rule un­til 2034

African Independent - - NEWS - STEPHANIE AGLIETTI

WANDANS on Satur­day cel­e­brated the third-term vic­tory of Pres­i­dent Paul Kagame who pledged to con­tinue trans­form­ing the na­tion af­ter win­ning re-elec­tion with a record 98.63% of the vote.

There had been lit­tle doubt that the 59-year-old would re­turn to the helm of the east African na­tion which he has ruled with an iron fist since the end of the 1994 geno­cide.

“I am very pleased. I had hoped for this vic­tory,” said Yvette Uwineza, a 36-year-old com­puter sci­en­tist. “The con­ti­nu­ity is re­as­sur­ing,” she said, cred­it­ing Kagame with de­vel­op­ing the coun­try and cre­at­ing “a bet­ter life for Rwan­dans”.

In­terim re­sults pub­lished by the elec­toral com­mis­sion showed Kagame out­did his pre­vi­ous wins of 95% in 2003 and 93% in 2010.

R“It is clear from what we can see that his ex­cel­lency Paul Kagame has been elected with 98.63 which means he is the de­clared win­ner as far as the pro­vi­sional re­sults are con­cerned,” said the com­mis­sion’s Charles Mun­yaneza.

The tally matched the pro­por­tion of peo­ple who sup­ported a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment two years ago per­mit­ting Kagame to run for a third, fourth and fifth term po­ten­tially see­ing him rule un­til 2034.

“I hon­oured your re­quest, and this (elec­tion) con­firms that Rwan­dans made a choice based on the fu­ture they want,” Kagame told thousands of sup­port­ers at his rul­ing party’s head­quar­ters in Ki­gali in the early hours of the morn­ing.

“We are go­ing to con­tinue with the work we started by ad­vo­cat­ing for a bet­ter Rwanda.”

Turnout was 96.42% of 6.9 mil­lion vot­ers.

Frank Habineza of the Demo­cratic Green Party – the only per­mit­ted crit­i­cal op­po­si­tion party – won just 0.45% of votes, beaten into third place by the lit­tle-known in­de­pen­dent can­di­date Philippe Mpay­i­mana with 0.72%.

Both ac­cepted their loss and vowed to con­tinue in pol­i­tics.

“I am not go­ing to stop here. I urge all cit­i­zens to join be so we can be­come stronger for the next elec­tion,” Mpay­i­mana said.

Rwan­dans cel­e­brated Kagame’s win in muted fash­ion, with no spon­ta­neous large gath­er­ings in the dis­ci­plined na­tion.

In­side a gym­na­sium in the cap­i­tal mu­sic and dancers en­ter­tained hun­dreds of party loy­al­ists who cel­e­brated into the morn­ing.

“We are cel­e­brat­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion,” said one young man as he danced. “We are cel­e­brat­ing Paul Kagame!” an­other yelled out next to him.

Kagame has been the de facto leader of Rwanda since, as a 36-year-old, his rebel army routed ex­trem­ist Hutu forces who slaugh­tered an es­ti­mated 800 000 peo­ple – mainly mi­nor­ity Tut­sis – and seized Ki­gali in 1994.

He was first ap­pointed pres­i­dent by law­mak­ers in 2000.

Kagame is cred­ited with a re­mark­able turn­around in the shat­tered na­tion, which boasts an­nual eco­nomic growth of about 7%, is safe, clean and has lit­tle cor­rup­tion.

Rwanda also has the high­est num­ber of fe­male law­mak­ers in the world.

How­ever rights groups ac­cuse Kagame of rul­ing through fear, re­ly­ing on sys­tem­atic re­pres­sion of the op­po­si­tion, free speech and the me­dia.

Kagame’s crit­ics have ended up jailed, forced into ex­ile or as­sas­si­nated.

vFew Rwan­dans would dare to openly speak out against him. – AFP

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