Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame wins election by landslide

Rwanda's president at a campaign rally, July 31st, 2017 (Flickr / Paul Kagame)

President Paul Kagame has won a third term in office with a landslide, according to an announcement by the country’s electoral commission.

Partial results of Friday’s election had given him 98% of the votes, according to the announcement.

Kagame, who has been in power for 17 years, was challenged by Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana.

Habineza is a 40-year-old environmentalist and leader of the Democratic Green Party. Previously he was a member of the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front, but he defected to join opposition politics in 2009.

The president’s other opponent Mpayimana is the author of several books and a former radio journalist for the humanitarian Radio Agatashya, which was operated in the former Zaire to help Hutu refugees after the 1994 genocide.

President Kagame himself came to power in 1994, when his rebel group took control of the capital, Kigali, ending the genocide in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered.

Rwanda’s constitution was amended in 2015, giving Kagame a chance to stay in power until 2034.

His landslide victory came after claims by the opposition candidates that their supporters were intimidated, suppressing attendance at their pre-election rallies.

The ruling party denies any accusations of wrongdoing. Kagame’s supporters say that he has brought stability and economic development after the horrors of the 1994 genocide.