Campaigns begin ahead of presidential, legislative polls in Rwanda

World Sunday 23/June/2024 14:59 PM
By: Xinhua
Campaigns begin ahead of presidential, legislative polls in Rwanda

Kigali: Campaigning started on Saturday in Rwanda ahead of next month's presidential and legislative elections.

Three presidential candidates are in the race including incumbent President Paul Kagame of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.

Kagame, who has been in power since 2000, launched his campaign in Musanze district, northern Province, where he told a huge rally that the RPF politics is about ensuring the development of all Rwandans without leaving anyone behind.

"Democracy is about personal choice of what you want and freedom of choice. In (a) democracy no one chooses for you, and that should be clear ...that choice depends on Rwanda's uniqueness," he said to applause from the crowd.

"We overcame a lot together, and so much more will be achieved," Kagame told thousands of supporters dressed in party colors.

The RPF candidate will address rallies at 19 campaign sites during the three-week campaign trail.

RPF's manifesto for the next five years unveiled earlier this year will be to build on what has been achieved so far toward the country's national Vision 2050 which aims at achieving sustainable development and better quality of life for every Rwandan, according to the party's chairperson.

Kagame, 66, has accused Western countries of adopting "double standards" on democracy, following criticism about his long stay in power. He won the last election in 2017 for a seven-year term with 98.63 percent of the vote, according to official data.

Kagame is seeking reelection following a 2015 constitutional amendment that allowed him to run for three more terms. The constitutional changes allowed Kagame to run for a seven-year third term in 2017. The amended constitution, however, reduced the presidential term limits to five years from 2024.

Habineza on his part began his campaign in the Gasabo District of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where he addressed supporters while Mpayimana launched his campaign in eastern Rwanda's Kirehe District.

Meanwhile, campaigns were launched in different parts of the country for more than 500 parliamentary candidates contesting for 80 seats in the lower chamber of parliament.

The presidential and parliamentary elections will be conducted on July 15.

About 9.5 million Rwandans are eligible to vote, according to the National Election Commission.