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Paul Kagame Emerges As Rwanda’s Ruling Party Presidential Candidate

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Paul Kagame Emerges As Rwanda’s Ruling Party Presidential Candidate

Rwanda’s ruling party has officially selected President Paul Kagame as its candidate for the upcoming July election.

The latest development sets the stage for what is anticipated to be another term for the long-serving leader.

Naija News reports that Kagame, who is 66 years old, has been at the helm of the landlocked African nation for several decades, having secured victory in the presidential elections held in 2003, 2010, and 2017 with overwhelming support exceeding 90 per cent.

His candidacy was uncontested during the Rwandan Patriotic Front congress, which concluded on Saturday, as confirmed by the party.

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Despite his acceptance of the nomination, Kagame emphasized the importance of the ruling party preparing for a future transition beyond his leadership.

The burden of responsibility to lead our country can be equated to a shock absorber against the challenges we face daily. It requires the right mindset,” AFP quoted Kagame as saying.

“I accept this burden of responsibility, but with a call to get someone to relieve me of this responsibility,” he added.

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Naija News understands that the leader of the opposition Green Party, Frank Habineza, is currently the only known challenger to President Kagame in the upcoming July polls.

In the previous election, Habineza secured only 0.45 per cent of the vote, placing third. However, this election was criticized by rights groups for irregularities and voter intimidation.

Another potential challenger, Victoire Ingabire, leader of the unregistered Dalfa Umurunzi movement, has been disqualified from running due to a previous conviction. A court decision regarding her eligibility to contest the presidency will be announced on March 13.

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The presidential and parliamentary polls in Rwanda will take place on July 15, following the government’s decision to synchronize the dates. On July 16, electoral colleges and committees will select twenty-four women MPs, two youth representatives, and a representative for disabled Rwandans.

The campaign period for candidates will run from June 22 to July 12, as stated in the election calendar.

Despite Rwanda being considered one of the most politically stable nations in Africa, human rights organizations criticize Kagame for governing under an atmosphere of fear that suppresses opposition and freedom of expression.

Kagame, who previously led a rebel group, assumed the presidency in April 2000, effectively becoming the country’s leader after the conclusion of the 1994 genocide.

In 2015, he oversaw contentious changes to the constitution that enabled him to seek additional terms and extend his tenure until 2034.

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