Rwandan President Paul Kagame is expected to win a third term in office when Rwandans head to the polls on Friday.
AFP reports that Mr. Kagame is running against two obscure candidates, Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party and independent Philippe Mpayimana.
Mr. Kagame’s strongest opponent, Diane Rwigara, was disqualified from the poll by the country’s electoral commission, while the two opponents who have been permitted to contest in the election were only given three weeks to campaign.
On July 7th 2017 I was unconstitutionally disqualified from the Rwandan Presidential candidates race. Campaigning started on July 14th.— Diane Shima Rwigara (@ShimaRwigara) July 17, 2017
The Rwandan strongman claimed in the middle of July that he had already won the August 4 election.
The 59-year-old leader, running on the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front ticket, was appointed president in 2000 but became the de facto head of state in 1994 after his rebel army brought an end to the genocide that left 800,000 people dead.
Since then, Mr. Kagame has consolidated power by clamping down on opposition politicians, activists and journalists, actions which have been criticized by leading human rights organizations.
In 2010, for instance, he arrested opposition leader Victoire Ingabire before the election. She is now serving a 15-year sentence for “threatening state security.”
Mr. Kagame went on to win elections in 2003 and 2010, winning over 90 percent of the vote in both contests.
In 2015, 98 percent of Rwandan voters voted in favor of amending the constitution allowing Mr. Kagame to continue to stand for re-election until 2034.
An estimated 6.9 million voters are eligible to vote in the East African country’s election on Friday. Polling begins at 05:00 GMT and will end at 13:00 GMT.