Demola Ojo with agency report
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has won a third term in office by a landslide. A final tally of votes gave him 98.63 per cent of the votes. Kagame’s supporters, who say that he has brought stability and economic development after the horrors of the 1994 genocide, began celebrating before the announcement. Critics – most of whom are outside the country – say he rules through fear.
Kagame, who has been in power for 17 years, was challenged by Frank Habineza, from the Democratic Green Party, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent. Another independent challenger, businesswoman and rights activist Diane Shima Rwigara, was disqualified by the electoral commission.
The remaining eight opposition parties did not put forward a candidate and instead backed Kagame who had previously called the election “just a formality”.
The 59-year-old came to power in 1994, when his Tutsi rebel group took control of the capital, Kigali, ending the genocide in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.
Rwanda’s constitution was amended in 2015, following a referendum, enabling him to run for a third term. Beyond this, he could run again, potentially staying in power until 2034.
His two challengers have complained that their supporters have been intimidated, which they say explains the low turnout at their rallies. The candidates have also accused some local authorities of undermining their campaigns but the ruling party denies any accusations of wrongdoing.