from PHYLLIS BIRORI in Kigali, Rwanda
KIGALI, (CAJ News) –INCUMBENT Paul Kagame has predictably romped to victory in the Rwandan presidential election.
Kagame (59), the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) candidate secured a landslide against lesser-known opposition leader, Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DPR).
At the time of going to press, Kagame, who has won a seven-year term, had secured an unassailable lead of 98,66 percent of the estimated 6.9 million voters that ensured a high turnout while opposition’s Habineza recorded a mere 0,45 percent.
With 80 percent of votes accounted for by Saturday, the former guerrilla leader was in a comfortable lead, the National Electoral Commission’s executive secretary, Charles Munyaneza, told a news conference.
Speaking as he cast his vote in the Rugunga polling station, Kagame reiterated the desire to continue with economic transforming pace aimed at reviving the East African country’s economy for the benefit of the 12-million population.
Kagame also said he would work to sustain economic growth in the tiny nation.
“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are (economically) developing,” Kagame said immediately after casting his vote.
Since taking over the reins in 2000, years after the1994 genocide that left close to a million people massacred, Kagame has been credited for improving people’s lives, uniting the nation and transforming Rwanda into a promising economy.
Nonetheless, he has also faced mounting censure for what critics and rights groups say are widespread human rights abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.
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 percent of the vote and during campaigns for the just-concluded poll, projected outright victory.
Habineza, who has secured 0,45 percent of the early count, had promised to set up a tribunal to retry dissidents whose convictions by Rwandan courts had been criticised as politically motivated.
Another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, was disqualified by the election board despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.
– CAJ News