WORLD

Kagame set for landslide victory in Rwandan election

KAGAME SET FOR LANDSLIDE VICTORY IN RWANDAN ELECTION

Millions of Rwandans on Friday thronged polling centers across the country to cast their vote in what is expected to be a landslide victory for incumbent President Paul Kagame.

Kagame, whose tenure as leader was supposed to come to an end this year after 17 years in power, became eligible to run for a third term when the constitution was amended by a referendum in 2015.

The amended constitution now allows Kagame to run for a third seven-year presidential term plus another two five-year terms which could, potentially, see him rule the country until 2034.

He is contesting the presidency against little-known opponents -- Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana.

"We will announce provisional results tonight by 11 p.m. [2100GMT]," Charles Munyaneza, the executive secretary of the National Electoral Commission, told reporters on Friday.

"We are confident that the elections will be peaceful and procedures will be followed with the utmost professionalism," he added.

Some allegations have surfaced that local leaders tried to sabotage Habineza's campaign. These allegations were acknowledged by the electoral commission, which said it was conducting investigations alongside a police probe.

Rwanda has also faced heavy criticism from some of its international donors, particularly the European Union, as well Human Rights Watch. Campaigning has been conducted under what Amnesty International has described a "climate of fear" imposed by the government.

The allegations have been rejected government.

Rwanda is one of a few countries that organizes elections for diaspora citizens.

The electoral commission said it expects over 40,000 citizens overseas to have voted yesterday, although it excludes Rwandans in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to "security reasons".

This is the third general election Rwanda has held since the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi which claimed over a million lives.

President Kagame was an easy winner in 2003 and 2010 and continues to draw praise both at home and abroad for leading the country to stability after the genocide.

However, Kagame has also attracted criticism for his forceful rule which has seen crackdowns on press freedom, self-expression and the political opposition.

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