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Rwanda 2017 Election - President

On June 05, 2015 Rwandas opposition Green Party petitioned the Supreme Court to prevent parliament from moving ahead with plans to amend the constitution to pave way for President Paul Kagame to seek re-election. Frank Habineza, chairman of the party, said it would be illegal for parliament to change the constitution. Adopted in 2003, the Rwanda constitution stipulates only two presidential term limits. Rwanda's parliament passed a motion in July 2015 supporting another term for Kagame.

Rwanda's Supreme Court cleared the way for President Paul Kagame to run for a third seven-year term when his term expired in 2017. The court ruled October 08, 2015 that amending the constitution to remove the current two-term limit for presidents was legal, as long as the process respects the law. Voters would still have to approve any changes in a referendum. The amendment would be likely to pass, given Kagame's control of media and politics in the East African country, and his popularity for keeping the peace since the end of the 1994 genocide.

As the people of Rwanda went to the ballot on 04 August 2017, they had a reason to be optimistic of even brighter days ahead. The countrys political scene also has a lot to be happy for.

Rwanda conducted a referendum in 2015 to extend current Rwandese President Paul Kagames stay in power, with 98% vote that the referendum in favor of the extension of Kagames term. In effect the referendum allowed Kagame to stand for another seven-year-term, and two more after that of five years each, meaning that Kagame could be in power until 2034 if successful in all those elections.

Kagame sought to extend his rule in the East African nation, having been in power since 2000. Kagame is credited with pulling Rwanda out of the murky waters of war and genocide, and seeing the country realize immense development in his 17 year rule. While many laud him for many great achievements, others have criticized his rule, saying Rwandans have been denied freedoms.

Some notable achievements by Kagame include;

  • Gender Equality: Women occupy more than 60 percent of seats in the Lower House of Rwandan Parliament, highest in the world.
  • Umuganda: Mandatory community service from 8:00 am to 11:00 am on the last Saturday of every month. Every adult between 18 and 65 years of age is required to participate in Umuganda. This project has got Kigali the top ranking in cleanest cities in Africa.
  • Nation-wide ban on plastics. Possession of non-biodegradable polythene bags in Rwanda is illegal. Border security or customs may search your luggage for plastics.
  • All ministers and officials in his government and administration have signed goals and specific targets and are held accountable for it.
  • Successful war on corruption: Rwanda ranks a respectable 55th on Transparency International corruption index, ahead of fledgling economies like South Africa, Brazil, India, and Mexico
  • Effective health care: Rwanda has built a near-universal health care system that covers more than 90 percent of the population, financed by tax revenue, foreign aid and voluntary premiums scaled by income.

In the run-up to the 04 August 2017 elections, incumbent President Paul Kagame attracted huge rallies in the capital, Kigali, and everywhere else he went. His opponents, opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent Philippe Mpayimana, drew crowds too, although not nearly as large. The events were peaceful and free of threatening rhetoric, in part because Kagame is expected to win in a landslide. He won the 2003 and 2010 polls with more than 90 percent of the vote, and there was no indication this year's result would be much different.

Green Party candidate Frank Habineza vowed to slash taxes for the poor, support small traders and reduce unemployment. In May, the country's National Institute of Statistics said unemployment stood at 13.2 percent.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have said Kagame's re-election bid comes in a climate of fear that resulted from two decades of crackdowns on the political opposition, media and activists.

Kagame faced mounting censure for what critics and rights groups say are widespread human rights abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.

With 80 percent of votes accounted for, the 59-year-old former guerrilla leader secured 98.66 percent, the National Electoral Commission's Executive secretary Charles Munyaneza told a news conference. "We expect that even if we get 100 percent of votes, there will not be any change," he said. The board expected turnout to top 90 percent in the East African country of 12 million citizens once full details emerged, in elections that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

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Page last modified: 01-10-2018 11:49:59 ZULU