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Rwanda’s presidential hopefuls kick off campaigns ahead of general elections

Paul Kagame, one of the three presidential candidates in Rwanda’s general elections, amidst a cheering crowd during his campaign launch in Musanze District on Saturday, June 22nd.

Three candidates vying for Rwanda’s presidency on Saturday launched their campaigns ahead of next month’s general elections.

The candidates announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) early this month are Paul Kagame of the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), lawmaker Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana who is the sole independent candidate.

This is the second time the trio is competing for the seat, after the 2017 general election won by incumbent President Kagame.

NEC reports that nine million people have already registered for this year’s combined presidential and parliamentary polls.

A total of 589 candidates are contesting for the 80 seats in the Lower House of Parliament.

During his campaign launch in Musanze District, Northern Province, Kagame pledged to promote inclusive development, stating,

“There is no other path Rwanda will follow or that Rwandans will accept, if it doesn’t include the three pillars [unity, democracy, and development]. That is what we strive for, be it in the RPF, the parties in coalition with the RPF, and all Rwandans in general. That is what we want to achieve at the highest level possible.”

He also expressed gratitude to voters for their confidence in him during the previous election, promising to continue leading the country on the path of socio-economic development if re-elected.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Mpayimana, launching his manifesto in Kirehe and Ngoma Districts, promised to enhance the country’s education sector.

“I encourage you to vote for my vision for a more sustainable and educated nation as we head to the polls,” he urged.

On the other hand, Habineza, running on the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda ticket, pledged to promote the welfare of Rwandans and foster national development if elected.

He also committed to scrapping land tax and reducing the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 18 per cent to 14 per cent.

Campaigning for both presidential and parliamentary elections will continue until July 13, one day before Rwandans in the diaspora cast their votes.

In Rwanda, eligible voters will head to the polls on July 15.

More than 260 electoral observers have been accredited for this year’s elections, including 61 from international institutions.