Kagame wins over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity, 7 more years in power

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

KIGALI: 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 on Satur­day.

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

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

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

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

Ad­dress­ing sup­port­ers early 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 that we be­come real Rwan­dans who are (eco­nom­i­cally) de­vel­op­ing,” he said in a speech broad­cast live on tele­vi­sion.

Un­der his rule, some dis­si­dents were killed after flee­ing abroad, in cases that re­main un­solved. The gov­ern­ment de­nies any in­volve­ment.

Kagame won the last elec­tion in 2010 with 93% of the vote. Habineza won 0.47% in the lat­est poll.

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