Rwandan President Paul Kagame won a second term in office after garnering 93 percent of the vote in the East African country’s Aug. 9 election, the electoral commission said.
“Based on the election results, the board of directors of the National Electoral Commission declares Paul Kagame is elected president of our country for the next term,” Chryslogue Karangwa, the body’s chairman, told reporters today in the capital, Kigali.
Kagame has pledged to continue policies that contributed to average annual economic growth of 8.3 percent in the nine years through 2008. He has also promised to maintain peace in a country torn apart in 1994 by a genocide that killed 800,000 people. While he has been praised for resurrecting Rwanda’s economy, human-rights groups have criticized the 52-year-old leader for restricting political freedom. The election campaign was marred by attacks on Kagame’s opponents.
Kagame’s only three opponents were colleagues in his government -- Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives from the Social Democratic Party; Alvera Mukabaramba, a senator from the Party of Progress and Concord; and the Liberal Party’s Prosper Higiro, the Senate’s vice president.
The election was “transparent and well-administered,” Salim Ahmed Salim, the chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group, told reporters yesterday. The vote was marred though by the fact that all four presidential candidates were drawn from the governing coalition, meaning “there was a lack of critical opposition voices,” he said.
Under Kagame, foreign direct investment in Rwanda increased to $541.2 million in 2009 from $32 million in 2003, according to the Rwanda Development Board. Investors include Starbucks Corp. of Seattle, the world’s largest coffee-shop chain, and Issaquah, Washington-based Costco Wholesale Corp., which have become the biggest buyers of Rwanda’s coffee, the backbone of its economy.
Kagame has dismissed criticism from human rights groups, which say his rule has become increasingly authoritarian and real challengers were excluded from the vote.
Andre Rwisereka, deputy leader of the opposition Democratic Green Party, was found dead July 14, and Jean-Leonard Rugambage, editor of the banned Umuvugizi newspaper, was shot and killed June 24. Rugambage was investigating allegations the government was behind the June 19 shooting of Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in South Africa. The former Rwandan army chief of staff survived. Rwanda’s government has denied any involvement in the incidents.