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African Union will deploy election observers in Rwanda

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) on Tuesday announced that it would deploy an election observation mission (AUEOM) in Rwanda on July 27th to observe the presidential election scheduled for the 4th of August this year.

Upon an invitation from the Government and the Electoral Commission of Rwanda, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the AU Commission, has approved the deployment of a short-term AU election observation mission to observe the upcoming election.

Headed by Cassam Uteem, former President of Mauritius, the mission comprises of 40 observers drawn from various African countries and AU institutions, and it will remain in the country until the announcement of final results.

Shortly after the election day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement of its findings at a press conference in Kigali, according to an AU statement.

A final report, including recommendations for improvement of future electoral processes in Rwanda, will be presented at a later stage, after the completion of the entire electoral process, said the statement from the pan-African bloc.



President Paul Kagame gains advantage in presidential
elections by his track record: analysts

By Lyu Tianran and James Gashumba KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) -- The incumbent president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, will seek his third term in the presidential elections on August 4, where he will face challenges from other two candidates.

Kagame, also the chairman of the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), holds advantage over the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s Frank Habineza and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, as he has a good track record and enjoys high popularity in the country, analysts told Xinhua.

“He is extremely popular and has the experience. He is the author of Rwanda’s emergence among nations,” said Herman Musahara, Associate Professor and Researcher of College of Business and Economics at University of Rwanda. He predicted another landslide victory of Kagame.

This year’s presidential elections will be the third since the end of the ex-genocidal regime in 1994. Kagame gained landslide victories in the last two presidential elections held in 2003 and 2010 by winning 95 percent and 93 percent of the total votes, respectively.

The 1994’s Rwanda genocide claimed over 1 million lives, mostly ethnic Tutsis. After ending the genocide, RPF led by Kagame formed a coalition government, which brought parties that did not participate in the genocide together, and started the journey of reconstruction and reconciliation.

He has been head of a government that has become the 7th in efficiency globally and the third in Africa in ease of doing business, said Musahara.

Kagame is cherished more profoundly as having led stopping the Rwandan genocide in 1994 under difficult conditions, and then went on to forge a unique and successful model of national unity and reconciliation, said the expert.

“Since the (July 1994) liberation, Rwanda has started a journey of recovering its unity and identity... which had been put aside, put down, by colonial rulers and subsequent regimes of the first and second regimes,” executive secretary of Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) Fidele Ndayisaba told Xinhua in an exclusive interview in June.

Rwanda’s reconciliation status is at 92.5 percent, up from 82.3 percent of five years before, according to Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer released by NURC in 2016.

The government has now adopted a policy of single national identity. Citizens are registered simply as Rwandans, with no ethnic or tribal references anymore on their identification papers.

According to Musahara, Kagame’s achievements in his last seven-year term include overseeing rapid economic and social development of Rwanda and Rwandans, taking Rwanda to a high positioning in visibility and competitiveness globally as a model of a developmental state, and maintaining peace and security in the country and the region.

“Life for Rwandans has generally continued to improve, and it is obvious to many that the government tries its best to work for them and in their interest,” said Frederick Golooba-Mutebi a researcher and writer on politics and public affairs.

He told Xinhua that other candidates can’t convince Rwandans that they have a viable alternative agenda that would make people’s lives better than they have been made over the last 23 years.

Kagame has a strong and clear track record, said the researcher, adding that most of what he and the government they lead have promised, they have delivered.

Where they have not delivered to expectations, fair-minded Rwandans would agree that it was not because they were taking care of their own interests at the expense of those of the ordinary person.

The government’s achievements in the past seven years include unity, poverty reduction, peace, security, fighting corruption, inclusive development, accountability and justice as foundation for sustainable development, infrastructure development and environment conservation, women empowerment, the CEO of Rwanda Governance Board Anastase Shyaka said during RPF’s congress, where Kagame was elected as RPF’s presidential candidate.

Others include universal health insurance cover for Rwandans and rural development, he said.

Campaigns for the three candidates started on July 14 and will end on August 3, just a day before the elections.

About 6.8 million people will participate in this year’s presidential elections, according to the National Electoral Commission of Rwanda.



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