Rwandans Vote in Poll That Looks Certain to Extend Kagames Rule

By Saul Butera

  A polling station in Kigali on Aug. 3. Photographer: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

A polling station in Kigali on Aug. 3. Photographer: Marco Longari/AFP via Getty Images

Rwandans began voting Friday in a presidential election that’s all but certain to extend Paul Kagame’s 17-year rule of the East African nation.

Polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and will close at 3 p.m., with about 6.8 million people in the country of 12 million registered to vote. Electoral officials say the winner will be announced later Friday, after at least 80 percent of ballots have been counted. Kagame is competing against the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s Frank Habineza and Mpayimana Philippe, an independent.

Kagame, 59, led a rebel army that ended the country’s 1994 genocide in which about 800,000 people died, and he’s been credited with turning Rwanda’s economy into one of Africa’s best performers since taking office in 2000. Detractors such as Amnesty International say civil liberties have been cast aside and the vote’s credibility compromised by a violent crackdown on his opponents.

Kagame was able to run again after a 2015 referendum backed amending the constitution to remove a two-term limit. If re-elected, he would serve a new, seven-year term, then could seek two further terms of five years each, potentially retaining his post until 2034.

Source: www.bloomberg.com

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