Rwanda's opposition leaders to back Kagame again

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Rwanda's opposition leaders to back Kagame again
Rwanda's Paul Kagame | Courtesy

RWANDA | The July 14-16 general elections in Rwanda is panning out as the last, after two opposition parties with seats at the ruling party's dining table announced maintenance of status quo.

The Liberal Party (PL) on Sunday endorsed incumbent President Paul Kagame for a fourth term.

The decision by PL, led by its leader Donatille Mukabalisa, who is also the speaker of Rwandan parliament, followed fast on the heel of that of Vincent Biruta's Social Democratic Party.

Dr Biruta is the current minister for foreign affairs in Kagame's government.

He said after his party's congress on that their interest would be in the parliamentary elections where he also intends to lobby for the number of MPs to be increased from the current 80 in the lower house of Rwanda's bicameral parliament.

Mukabalisa, who urged Rwandans to vote to extend Kagame's three-decade stronghold on the central African state, said he was characterised by good leadership.

"We have experienced huge development over the past 30 years," Rwanda's The New Times quoted Mukabalisa as saying.

"Kagame has fostered diplomacy and we believe he is the potential candidate to continue leading our country."

More of the same

Liberal Party president Donatille Mukabalisa endorsed Kagame's re-election | Courtesy-New Times

In the 2017 presidential elections, Victoire Ingabire was in jail and Diane Rwigara was barred from running, leaving Frank Habineza of the Green Party and Phillipe Mpayimana as the two also-ran.

Ms Ingaabire is again disenfranchised, this time by a constitutional provision that bars a former convict form civil duty until they are granted a certificate of rehabilitation by the government.

"It's a shame for the ruling party which loud and clear says that their candidate is popular yet he doesn't dare to compete with strong candidates," Ms Ingabire told the Nile Post on Sunday.

She suggested that Mpayimana, who was in 2021 appointed as a senior expert for security engagement in the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, would be back in the July race.

Gilbert Mwenedata and Fred Ssekikubo, two other unknown Rwandans who attempted to vest their chest for the top job before being disqualified, could also make another push.

Mpayimana in 2017 upset the bookies by turning in 49,031 votes to beat Habineza by nearly 15,000 votes as the two combined for 1.2 percent of the vote in Kagame's 98.79 percent landslide.

Mr Kagame has already been endorsed as the flagbearer of RPF-Inkotanyi.

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