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Rwanda votes: Background of 3rd presidential poll since 2003

Rwanda votes: Background of 3rd presidential poll since 2003

Rwanda

Rwandans go to the polls between August 3 – 4, to elect a president with three candidates in line to govern the country for the next seven years.

It is the third multi-party presidential election for the country after the 1994 genocide. The election is via a one round vote which is decided on a first past the post basis.

One candidate, incumbent Paul Kagame, is the only person to have participated in all three polls, he won the previous polls – 2003 and 2010 – with over 95% of votes cast. Until a 2015 referendum, marred by violence, Kagame would not have been eligible to stand for the polls.

You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept. But I don't think that what we need is an eternal leader.

The 2015 referendum approved constitutional amendments that allowed Kagame to run for a third term. It also shortened the term limits from seven to five years even though the change will be effected after the 2024 elections.

Kagame announced his candidacy in early 2016 in a televised address, saying “You requested me to lead the country again after 2017. Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept,” adding “But I don’t think that what we need is an eternal leader.”

Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission (NEC) earlier this month cleared two other candidates to face Kagame in the polls. Main opposition party leader Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana will also be on the ballot paper during the vote.

Three other independent candidates including the only female aspirant, 35-year-old Diane Shima Rwigara were disqualified by the NEC for not meeting the requirements as candidates.

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