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Rwanda prepares for general and presidential polls

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has campaigned in Gasabo, a suburb of the capital Kigali, ahead of the August 4 general and presidential elections.

Tens of thousands of his supporters had gathered to catch one last glimpse of their leader during the campaign period.

The supporters claim the rally is evidence of the depth of Kagame’s support Kagame in the lead-up to Friday’s poll.

"It’s because the people love him. He’s our hero, through him we built this country from scratch. Rwanda was dead before and now we are alive," said Solange Mubaraki, the founder of Defence Spouses Alliance Cyuzuzo, a local support group of more than 250 wives of those serving in Rwanda’s security services.

"Everyone can see Rwanda is not about genocide, but development and peace because of the leadership of Kagame," he said.

Kagame is recognised for his 17-year track record of economic growth, stability and development.

The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) expect a victory that would award Kagame a third term and another seven years in office.

Although Kagame is widely popular, international rights observers have expressed concern over the political environment in which Friday’s vote takes place.

At Wednesday’s rally, Kagame rejected accusations of "dictatorship" and said Rwandans were free to choose their leader.

The Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), led by Frank Habineza, is running against Kagame’s RPF in an election race largely dominated by the RPF’s tricoloured flags of red, white and blue in Kigali.

Although the visibility of Rwanda’s leading opposition party is minimal in the local press and on television, Habineza’s DGPR has managed to hold a series of small rallies.

It promised, much like Kagame, to improve access to electricity, education and health services for Rwanda’s rural majority.

At least seven million voters are registered to cast their ballots in the third elections.


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