Kagame poised to win as voting closes in presidential poll
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Rwandans turned out in large numbers to vote in their country’s second presidential poll since the 1994 genocide with incumbent Paul Kagame widely expected to win.
Voters queued much before sunrise Monday to cast their ballots in Rwanda's second presidential election since the 1994 genocide with incumbent Paul Kagame widely expected to be swept to a second seven-year term, after already serving for 10 years.
Polling stations closed at 1pm GMT in many areas of Rwandan capital Kigali. Provisional results are expected late Monday.
Dressed in a white shirt and a blue blazer, Kagame cast his ballot in a school near the presidential office.
In the initial vote counting in the polling stations the name of Paul Kagame could constantly be heard with Kagame clocking up votes in their hundreds and none of his challengers making it into double figures, according to AFP.
Despite the widepsread support that Kagame enjoys at home, critics have accused Kagame of suppressing opposition and undermining democracy following a crackdown on the more credible opposition leaders, who either faced arrest or failed to secure official registration and were unable to run.
Kagame is facing three candidates who all supported him seven years ago.
War hero to politician
Kagame was just 36 years old in 1994 when his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebel army routed the forces behind the genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people. He then went on to serve in the government during Rwanda’s transition period after the war.
In 2003, in the fist presidential election after the genocide, 95 percent of Rwandans gave Kagame their support. The international community has since praised Kagame for the solid economic growth that the country has seen and his bold vision to turn Rwanda into an IT hub and middle-income nation in the next ten years.
For Professor Bernard Rutikanga, who teaches history at the National University of Rwanda in the southern city of Butare, Kagame enjoys mass appeal because he has delivered on his promises to bring stability and fight graft.
"He walks the walk. Even people in the government are going to jail for corruption. People in Rwanda recognise that [Kagame] is doing what he said he would do," says Rutikanga.
Kagame is running against three smaller parties, but all have links to the RPF. Candidates Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, Prosper Higiro and Alvera Mukabaramba are all campaigning vigorously, but their positions on many key issues are remarkably similar to Kagame’s.
Rwanda's Electoral Commission said on Sunday that the two-and-a-half-week electoral campaign was free of any violent or disorderly incidents.
The European Union has sent four experts, but they will only draw up a report for internal EU use.
The Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) called on “all Rwandan political parties, all human rights groups and the citizens to rise and reject this electoral masquerade robbing them of their basic rights.”
It also accused the Rwandan government of being behind the killings of independent journalists, as well as the detention of opponents and lawyers and attempting to eliminate exiles.
Some elements of the Democratic Republic of Congo-based FDLR are being sought by Kigali on charges of taking part in the genocide.