Kagame confident of win
Kigali - Rwandan President Paul
Kagame said on Tuesday that he was confident of re-election on August 9 as he
kicked off a campaign already tarnished by a string of political assassinations
The 52-year-old leader, who has
ruled Rwanda since his Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) ended the 1994 genocide by
extremists from the Hutu majority against his Tutsi minority, insisted the
country was free to choose.
"Rwandan voters have the
freedom to decide. But we have to seek their support and explain how we deserve
their support," Kagame told reporters in Kigali on the first day of the
three-week official campaign.
But with the main opposition
parties already effectively out of the running, few people, including Kagame
himself, appeared to have any doubt on the outcome of the vote.
"I'm very confident that
Rwandans will choose to work with RPF but I don't take anything for
granted," Kagame said.
The RPF is planning to spend $2m
on the campaign, all from "voluntary contributions", according to
Kagame's campaign co-ordinator Christophe Bazivamo.
Challenging Kagame are deputy speaker
Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, running for the Social Democratic Party, as well
as the Liberal Party's Prosper Higiro and the Party of Progress and Concord's
Those three movements supported
Kagame during the 2003 presidential election and are described by other parties
as the RPF's "political satellites", token opposition used to
maintain a facade of pluralism.
The Unified Democratic Forces has
not been officially registered by the authorities and its leader, Victoire
Ingabire, has faced legal action since April after being accused of negating
the genocide and abetting terrorism.
"She associated herself with
those who carried out the genocide," Kagame said on Tuesday to justify
The Social Party (Imberakuri)
faces similar problems and its leader Bernard Ntaganda has been behind bars
since June 24.
In another development, Andre
Kagwa Rwisereka – vice-chairperson of the unregistered opposition Democratic
Green Party - was found dead, nearly decapitated, on July 14.
Several senior army officers have
been arrested in recent months and one general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa,
narrowly survived an assassination attempt in exile in South Africa.
An opposition journalist who
claimed to have uncovered the regime's responsibility in the attempted murder
was shot dead days later.
In a country known for almost
non-existent crime, Kagame insisted on Tuesday that the latest murders were not
"There is nothing to gain
from that... Why would the government be that stupid? I think there is
something terribly wrong. People jump to conclusions without evidence," he
Rights groups have repeatedly
accused Rwanda of restricting political and press freedom ahead of the
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed
his "concerns regarding the recent incidents which have caused political
tensions" and demanded a full investigation into the death of the
journalist and Rwisereka's murder.
Ban's statement came last week in
Madrid, where Kagame was invited to talk on the status of the Millennium
Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis
Rodriguez Zapatero opted out of a meeting with Kagame at the last minute
following protests from some political parties over the Rwandan president's
role in the genocide.