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Grenade attack rocks Kigali after Kagame’s landslide election win

Text by Tony Todd

Latest update : 2010-08-12

At least one grenade was thrown at passengers at a bus station in Rwanda's capital late on Wednesday, wounding at least seven people in an attack that came just hours after the final count showed that President Paul Kagame had won re-election.

At least seven people were wounded, including two children, in a grenade attack in the Rwandan capital on Wednesday, just hours after the final results came in from a much-criticised presidential election that saw no real opposition.

Police said a grenade was thrown in the rush-hour attack at Kigali’s main bus station, while witnesses said they saw two grenades thrown.
“We were waiting for a bus when we saw a car pull up,” one injured man told FRANCE 24. “The car stopped and a few seconds later something was thrown which exploded. Shortly afterwards a motorbike pulled up, and the driver threw a second device which also exploded. People fell to the ground. I could not get up.”
Another victim told FRANCE 24: “I was hit in the arm. Doctors say they will remove a piece of shrapnel later. There were many, many people wounded.
It is the fourth such grenade attack in the Rwandan capital since February. No one has ever claimed responsibility for these deadly attacks in which a total of four people have been killed.
An election without opposition
Wednesday’s attack took place just hours after it was announced that incumbent President Paul Kagame had won the election with 93% of the vote.
The election campaign was marked by a series of arrests and killings of opposition figures. Those opposition candidates that did stand were all allied to Kagame’s ruling party and backed him in the previous election in 2003.
Kagame denied that he or his party had any involvement in the killing of a journalist and an opposition figure in the run-up to the election.
Three parties that had been set up to challenge Kagame’s hold on power were barred from the election on administrative grounds. These parties subsequently denounced the election as a sham, arguing that it is little more than a facade to prop up a repressive regime.
Paul Kegame's  supporters credit him with ending Rwanda's 1994 genocide, which claimed some 800,000 lives, and for the period of relative stability and growth that Rwanda has since enjoyed. Kagame has been the de facto leader of the small landlocked East African nation since the genocide.
Kagame is himself a Tutsi, the tribe which before colonial intervention traditionally ruled over the majority Hutu country.
Observers from the Commonwealth (which Rwanda joined last year) said that although there was little evidence of fraud, the election was marred by the absence of “critical opposition voices”.

The EU hailed the election for its “calm atmosphere and high voter turnout”, noting however that “some progress remains to be made in ensuring fundamental freedoms.”


Date created : 2010-08-12


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