gtag('config', 'UA-12595121-1'); Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame expected to cruise to fourth term – The Zimbabwe Mail

Rwandan Dictator Paul Kagame expected to cruise to fourth term

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) party sits to submit his candidacy for an a July 15 election at Rwanda's National Election Commission in Kiyovu, Kigali, Rwanda May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Jean Bizimana/File Photo
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KIGALI, – Rwandan President Paul Kagame is widely expected to secure a fourth term in office in the upcoming election on Monday.

Despite being cleared to run against two opposition candidates, Kagame faces little competition as six other potential candidates were disqualified by the state-run electoral commission.

Kagame, 66, who played a pivotal role in ending the 1994 genocide and has been president since 2000, is facing Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party and Philippe Mpayimana, a government official. The opposition candidates have modest expectations, given Kagame’s dominant political presence. In the 2017 election, Kagame won nearly 99% of the vote following a constitutional amendment that removed term limits, allowing him to run again.

Kagame’s potential reelection may bring further stability to Rwanda, a country of 14 million that he has been credited with rebuilding post-genocide. Rwanda has become a regional financial hub under his leadership. However, Kagame’s tenure has also drawn international scrutiny over allegations of human rights abuses, media suppression, and the assassination of political opponents. Western nations and rights activists have been particularly vocal about these concerns.

The scrutiny intensified with Rwanda’s 2022 migration deal with Britain, aimed at receiving thousands of asylum seekers. British Prime Minister Keir Starmer recently announced plans to scrap the agreement.

Rwanda’s government has consistently denied all accusations against it. While campaigning, Kagame emphasized continued development and stability. “With you, there is nothing our country will not achieve, because today you have leaders who are not foolish and you are not foolish,” he told young supporters at a rally in Eastern Province last week.

Out of eight initial candidates, only Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana were approved by the electoral commission. Habineza, who received 0.48% of the vote in 2017, remains optimistic about increasing his share. “People are only considering 2017 and say that I got 0.4%, but they forget that our party stood for parliament and got more than 5%,” he told Reuters.

Mpayimana, working for the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, encouraged voters to consider new leadership. “It’s true you cannot change the winning team, but we also have to give opportunities to the junior teams to see if they can deliver on their pledges. That is what democracy means,” he said during a campaign event.

More than 9 million voters are registered for the elections, which will also include selecting members of the 80-seat lower house of parliament. Provisional results are expected by July 20.

As the election approaches, the focus remains on whether Kagame’s continued leadership will address the criticisms leveled against his administration while maintaining Rwanda’s trajectory of growth and stability.

Source: Reuters