Sunday 26 January 2020

Paul Kagame retains Rwanda presidency 'with 98pc of vote'

Paul Kagame arrives to cast his ballot in Rwanda's capital Kigali (AP)
Paul Kagame arrives to cast his ballot in Rwanda's capital Kigali (AP)

Ignatius Ssuuna

Rwanda's long-time President Paul Kagame has won a third term in office in what he had called "a formality".

Electoral authorities said Mr Kagame had won more than 98% of the vote with 80% of ballots counted, with no major change expected when final results are announced. He had faced two challengers.

He has led the east African nation of 12 million people since the end of its genocide in 1994 during which more than 800,000 people died.

The 59-year-old has been praised for the country's economic growth, but human rights groups accuse his government of using state powers to silence opponents. Rwandan authorities deny it.

A constitutional amendment in 2015 allows him to stay in power until 2034 if he pursues it.

Mr Kagame ran against Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda - the only permitted opposition party - and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana.

Three potential candidates were disqualified for allegedly failing to fulfil requirements including collecting enough signatures.

Candidates had been barred from putting campaign posters in most public places, including schools and hospitals.

The electoral commission vetted candidates' campaign messages, warning that their social media accounts could be blocked otherwise.

More than 80pc of Rwanda's 6.9 million registered voters cast their ballots, according to Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of the Rwanda Electoral Commission.

Mr Kagame addressed jubilant supporters at party headquarters and urged Rwandans, including those who did not support him, to work together.

"The victory belongs to Rwandans who put trust in me," he said. "I promise to build on the achievements so far registered and transform the country."

PA Media

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