Rwandan President Kagame Consolidates Power in Legislative Vote
President Paul Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party consolidated its grip on power in parliamentary elections approved by regional observers.
Monitors from the five-nation East African Community, of which Rwanda is a member, said the elections were conducted according to the law and that the outcome “reflects the will of the people,” according to an statement e-mailed today.
RPF candidates took 41 out of 53 seats contested by political parties in a vote held Sept. 16, Kalisa Mbanda, chairman of the National Electoral Commission, said today by phone from the capital, Kigali, citing final results.
The election was the third since the party came to power after fighting to end a genocide that killed more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus over 100 days in 1994.
Kagame has been praised for rebuilding the economy over the past two decades while being criticized by some human right activists for cracking down on civil liberties and silencing dissent. The U.S. in 2011 condemned reports about the harassment and disappearance of civil society figures, opposition officials and journalists in the country.
The coffee-producing economy has doubled in size in the nine years through 2010, according to the World Bank. It may expand 7.5 percent this year from 8 percent last year, according to the International Monetary Fund. The country was the first in East Africa to issue a Eurobond, raising $400 million in April.
The Social Democratic Party and Liberal Party, which both cooperate with the RPF, won 7 and 5 seats, respectively, in the legislative vote. About 99 percent of 6 million registered voters cast a ballot in direct balloting. said Mbanda. Kagama’s second, seven-year term ends 2017.
Voting for 27 seats reserved for women, youth and people with disabilities who aren’t attached to political parties and run individually was held Sept. 17 and yesterday. Women captured about 64 percent of all parliamentary positions.
Rwanda is the only country in the world with a female majority in parliament, the Geneva, Switzerland-based Inter-Parliamentary Union said today in an e-mailed statement.
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