Rwanda’s Kagame sweeps landslide victory, wins third presidential term

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KIGALI, Aug 5(AGENCIES):  Incumbent leader Paul Kagame swept to a landslide victory in Rwanda’s presidential election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power, results showed on Saturday,

Kagame has won international plaudits for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in the Central African nation since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

But he has also faced mounting censure for what critics and rights groups say are widespread human rights abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.

With 80 percent of votes counted from Friday’s election, the 59-year-old former guerrilla leader had secured 98.66 percent, the National Electoral Commission’s Executive secretary Charles Munyaneza told a news conference.

“We expect that even if we get 100 percent of votes, there will not be any change,” he said.

The full count will be released at 1400 GMT on Saturday.

The board expects turnout to have topped 90 percent in the country of 12 million people in an election that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

Kagame said he would work to sustain economic growth.

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are (economically) developing,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

“What I saw during campaigns is that the decision to continue to lead you drew criticism mainly by foreigners but this proves that the referendum was for real purpose.”

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