Rwanda

Rwanda Elections: Kagame Votes, Polling Underway Across the Country

President kagame voting

President Paul Kagame has cast his vote at Ape Rugunga in Nyarugenge District, and he was accompanied by his family.

Across Rwanda, voters have thronged polling stations covered in the blue, yellow and green colors of the national flag to cast their ballots as they pick from the three contending candidates.

This becomes the third election Rwandans are participating since the end of the 1994 genocide.

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About 6.9 million Rwandans have registered to vote in the poll pitting incumbent Paul Kagame against two other contenders; Opposition Democratic Green party’s Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana, an Independent candidate.

At a school in the capital, during campaigns several Rwandans praised Kagame for his leadership since his rebel army routed extremist Hutu forces who slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people – mainly minority Tutsis – and seized Kigali.

Habineza and Mpayimana his opponents, however, complained that they were only allowed one week to fundraise, and three weeks to campaign before the election.

An outspoken local journalist Robert Mugabe told AFP recently that, “There is no election in Rwanda, there is a coronation declaring Kagame the king.”

Even Kagame has said the result is a foregone conclusion. “The election is over,” he declared on the first day of the campaign.

His confidence comes after 98 percent of Rwandans approved a constitutional amendment in a 2015 referendum that granted him the right to run for a third term in office.

Observers condemned the reform, which could potentially see Kagame retain office twice more if re-elected this time and allow him to stay president until 2034.

National Electoral Commission Executive Secretary, Charles Munyaneza yesterday told this website in an interview that all election materials have been dispatched to the different polling stations around the country.

“We are set with everything required to have a smooth election,” Munyaneza said, adding that preliminary results will be released by the end of the voting day.

The country has over 6.8 million registered voters plus about 44,000 in the diaspora, with about 16,000 polling stations.

Munyaneza further assured voters that security will be under control: “We have worked very closely with security personnel, especially the police. Generally we don’t have any concerns related to security and we are very confident that elections will go on very peacefully.”

He also hailed Rwandans living in Uganda for turning up in big numbers today to cast their votes.

“Looking at the turn-up in Uganda, it looked as if it was in Rwanda. So I thank the people there who turned up and voted calmly,” Munyereza said.

Rwandan nationals in Uganda lined up as early as 4am at their High Commission offices in Kitante, a Kampala suburb, to participate in the process.

Rwanda High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, said the big turnup indicates that the Rwandans appreciated the progress in the country.

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