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Rwanda's presidential campaign kicks off with Kagame facing familiar rivals

In this photo taken Wednesday, July 26, 2017, supporters of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame wave flags with the French acronym of Kagame's party the Rwandan Patriotic Front,   -  
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Eric Murinzi/Copyright 2017 The AP. All rights reserved.


The campaign for Rwanda's July 15 presidential election began Saturday, with nine million registered voters. This election is coupled with the legislative elections for the first time.

Paul Kagame, first elected president by Parliament in 2000 and re-elected by universal suffrage in 2003, 2010, and 2017 with over 90% of the vote each time, will face Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana, his 2017 opponents.

Key opposition figures like Victoire Ingabire and Bernard Ntaganda are barred from running due to past convictions. Diane Rwigara's candidacy was invalidated due to non-compliant documents; she was previously excluded and acquitted in 2018.

A 2015 constitutional revision changed presidential terms from seven to five years, allowing Kagame to potentially stay in power until 2034 if re-elected.

Legislative elections have been synchronized with the presidential election, with over 500 candidates vying for 80 parliamentary seats. Voters will directly elect 53 representatives, with 27 seats reserved for women, youth, and disabled individuals, chosen indirectly.

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