By Stephanie AGLIETTI
Kigali (AFP) Aug 4, 2017
Rwandan President Paul Kagame sailed to a third term in office with a tally hovering around a whopping 98 percent of votes, partial results showed Saturday.
There had been little doubt that the 59-year-old would return to the helm of the east African nation which he has ruled with an iron fist since the end of the 1994 genocide.
With 80 percent of results counted, Kagame had secured some 5.4 million votes, far more than the 50 percent plus one required for him to win re-election.
"We think that at this level ... it will be the same result, no change after having counted 100 percent (of votes)," said national elections commission chairman Kalisa Mbanda. Full provisional results will come through later Saturday.
The commission estimates 97 percent of 6.9 million voters turned out to cast their ballots.
Of the results tallied, Kagame had 98.66 percent -- a figure which could still shift slightly -- while his two little-known rivals barely made a dent.
Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party -- the only permitted critical opposition party -- won 0.45 percent of votes and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana scored 0.72.
Around the country Rwandans gathered to hear the results, with some celebrating an early win for Kagame. At a gymnasium in the capital loud music blared and traditional dancers took to the floor to entertain several hundred people.
"We are celebrating the presidential election," said one young man as he danced. "We are celebrating Paul Kagame!" another yelled out next to him.
- Polarising leader -
Kagame has been the de-facto leader of Rwanda since, as a 36-year-old, his rebel army routed extremist Hutu forces who slaughtered an estimated 800,000 people -- mainly minority Tutsis -- and seized Kigali in 1994.
He was appointed president by lawmakers in 2000 before being elected in 2003 with 95 percent of votes and again in 2010 with 93 percent of votes.
The lanky former guerilla fighter is one of Africa's most divisive leaders, with some hailing him as a visionary while critics see a despot aiming to become one of the continent's presidents-for-life.
Kagame is credited with a remarkable turnaround in the shattered nation, which boasts annual economic growth of about seven percent, is safe, clean and does not tolerate corruption. Rwanda also has the highest number of female lawmakers in the world.
However rights groups accuse Kagame of ruling through fear, relying on systematic repression of the opposition, free speech and the media.
Kagame's critics have ended up jailed, forced into exile or assassinated. While few Rwandans would dare to openly speak against him.
- 'A winning team' -
Those who praise him, do so with adulation.
"He freed the country, he stabilised the country. Now we can walk anywhere day or night without problems," Jean Baptiste Rutayisire, a 54-year-old entrepreneur, said at a polling station in Kigali.
"He is an exceptional man. You don't change a winning team."
Like many other voters AFP spoke to, Rutayisire didn't know the names of the other candidates.
Despite facing an unwinnable battle against Kagame in which opponents had only three weeks to campaign, Habineza was upbeat after voting earlier.
"For the first time since 23 years an opposition party has been in the ballot," he told AFP. Previously only independents and parties allied with Kagame fielded candidates.
Kagame's win 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.
Bamako (AFP) Aug 2, 2017
French and German support for a regional Sahel force to battle jihadists will persuade other European nations of the benefits of backing the counter-terror measure, Germany's defence minister said Tuesday. Ursula von der Leyen spoke to journalists in Bamako after talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, arriving six days after a helicopter crash in the country's north killed two German c ... read more
Africa News - Resources, Health, Food
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|