Rwandans have affirmed their confidence in their leader Paul Kagame by giving him 98% of their votes. Kagame’s popularity in the country has consistently been high. A referendum was held in 2015 and 98% of the electorate voted to have Kagame run for a third term. The change allows Kagame stay in power till 2034. Kagame is credited for the economic growth the country has experienced in the last few years.
Kagame contested against Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party and the independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, a former journalist. The two opposition contestants did not get more than 1% each of votes. Diane Rwigara, who had been considered Kagame’s strongest opponent, was disqualified in July for lack of enough signatures. In the 2010 election Kagame won 93% of the votes.
Prov. Results- National Level:
Philippe Mpayimana: 49117= 0.73%
— National Electoral Commission | Rwanda (@RwandaElections) August 5, 2017
Kagame who is 59 has led Rwanda since the genocide in 1994, taking over the government when Western powers hesitated on the sidelines while crimes against humanity were being perpetrated. The country has so far been made great strides to maintain political stability, peace, recording economic growth and development under Kagame’s leadership. However, despite these developmental gains, many western countries and media houses argue that the country is ruled through fear and intimidation.
Kagame has been vocal about issues pertaining to the continent with regards to economic and political stability and development. His recent banning of second hand clothes into Rwanda has ruffled some feathers.
Recently, Kagame moved the offices of some parastatals to different parts of the country in order to reduce rural to urban migration.
In a live broadcast on television Kagame said, “This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are [economically] developing.”
For many western countries and media houses, Kagame has become their new project to criticise. But for many Rwandans and Africans, Kagame exhibits qualities of competent leaders Africa needs.