UPDATE: Rwandans go to the polls

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At some polling stations, people arrived as early as 4 am, 3 hrs before polls opened (Courtesy)

Millions of Rwandans across the country on Friday headed to polls to elect the next head of state.

By 7pm, all the 2,340 polling stations and 16,691 polling rooms were open and they close at 3pm to pave way for the tallying process.

The Executive Secretary National Electoral Commission (NEC), Charles Munyaneza told The New Times that 80% of the registered voters had cast their vote by 1pm. 

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President Kagame and RPF-Inkotanyi flag bearer casts his vote at APE Rugunga school in Nyarugenge.
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First Lady Jeannette Kagame casts her vote at APE Rugunga school in Nyarugenge District.

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame arrived at APE-Rugunga polling station, in Kigali’s Nyarugenge District at 11:00am where he cast his vote.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party voted from Kimironko II Primary School polling station in Kigali’s Gasabo District. He was accompanied by wife.

VIDEO: Frank Habineza casts his vote. Source: YouTube/TheNewTimes

Meanwhile, Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana cast his vote at Camp Kigali primary School. Speaking to The New Times that he is confident and expects to win this election. 

VIDEO: Philippe Mpayimana votes at Camp Kigali Primary School. Source: YouTube/TheNewTimes

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Mpayimana speaks to the media after casting his vote at Camp Kigali Primary School on Friday morning. ( Sam Ngendahimana)
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Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana casts his vote at Camp Kigali on Friday morning. (Sam Ngendahimana)

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Rwandan in Diaspora vote

More than 44,000 registered Diaspora voters in Diaspora cast their votes today, a day before voters in the country also make their choice on who should lead the country for the next seven years.

The contest is between incumbent President Paul Kagame (RPF-Inkotanyi), Frank Habineza (Democratic Green Party of Rwanda), and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.

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Rwandan Girl-Scouts away from home (participating in their annual Jamboree) cast their votes in Germany. (Courtesy)
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A polling center in Nyamirambo.
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Members of the Rwandan community in Switzerland flash their voter ink-stained thumbs after casting their ballots earlier today. (Courtesy)
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The Chairman of the Rwandan Diaspora Network, Eng. Daniel Murenzi (right), poses with other members of the Rwandan community in Arusha, Tanzania after casting their votes earlier Thursday. 
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Some innovation at the polling site in Sydney, Australia (Courtesy)
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A guide around the polling station.
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This is how the ballot paper looks like.
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Allan Hakizimana, a Rwandan said to have been first to cast his vote. He voted from Auckland, New Zealand. 

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DAY TWENTY

Wednesday is the FINAL day of the 2017 presidential campaigns.

RPF–Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is set to hold his biggest rally of the presidential campaigns when he campaigns in Bumbogo, Gasabo District.

Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana on Wednesday also campaigns in Gasabo District where he will hold a rally at Amahoro stadium.

Frank Habineza of Green Party campaigns in Nyabugogo in Nyarugenge District on Wednesday and later heads to Nyamirambo.

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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters gathered in Bumbogo, Gasaba District.
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Some of the cars parked in Bumbogo where RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame campaigns on Wednesday.

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DAY NINETEEN

With only one day left in the 2017 presidential campaigns, Paul Kagame of RPF-Inkotanyi campaigns in Gicumbi District, Northern Province. He will hold two rallies there.

On Tuesday, Green Party’s Frank Habineza campaigns in Burera District, Northern Province.

Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Huye, Ruhango and Bugesera districts on Tuesday. This will be his last day of campaigns.

DAY EIGHTEEN

It’s Day Seventeen of the 2017 presidential campaigns.

RPF Presidential candidate, Paul Kagame campaigns in Northern Province districts of Burera and Gakenke after taking a break on Sunday.

Green Party candidate Frank Habineza campaigns in Gasabo District, Kigali City on Monday.

Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Rulindo, Gakenke,  Musanze District

DAY SEVENTEEN

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame takes a break today.

Green Party’s Frank Habineza on Sunday holds one rally in Huye District, Southern Province

DAY SIXTEEN

RPF-Inkotanyi presidential candidate holds rallies in Nyamasheke District, Western province.

Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Shyorongi in Rulindo District.

While Green Party's Frank Habineza campaigns in Rutsiro District

DAY FIFTEEN

Friday is Day Fifteen of the 2017 presidential campaigns.

President Paul  Kagame and RPF flag bearer holds two rallies in Rusizi District, Western Province. He starts in Nyakabuye Sector and  later makes a stop in Gihundwe Sector for his last rally of Friday.

Independent candidate Mpayimana takes a day off after holding rallies in Kirehe, Ngoma and Kayonza on Thursday.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party campaigns in the districts of Gakenke and Musanze this Friday.

DAY FOURTEEN 

Thursday is Day Fourteen of the 2017 presidential elections.

After a hat trick of rallies in Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts yesterday, RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame heads to Karongi and Rutsiro on Thursday.

VIDEO: 

Green Party's Frank Habineza is on Thursday expected to campaign in Ngororro and Kamonyi districts in Western and Southern provinces, respectively.

Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate is expected to take his dream of becoming the country’s top executive officer to electorate in Kirehe, Kayonza, Rwamagana, Ngoma and Kicuciro districts.

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President Kagame addresses Karongi residents on Thursday. 
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President Kagame speaks in Karongi District.
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RPF-Inkotanyi candidates is now  addressing his supporters in Karongi District. (Athan Tashobya)
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Thousands of Rutsiro District residents turned up in large numbers to support the RPF-Inkotanyi presidential candidate, Paul Kagame (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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President Kagame greets RPF supporters in Rutsiro where he held a rally on Thursday. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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On Thursday morning, Mpayimana was scheduled to campaign in Ngoma District. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Mpayimana campaigns in Kibungo Sector, Ngoma District. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Some of the residents who attended Mpayimana's rally in Kirehe District. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Mpayimana campaigns in Kabarondo Sector in Kayonza Districts. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Green Party's Frank Habineza campaigns in Ngororero District on Thursday. Later on Thursday, he campaigns in being his first rally,  in Kamonyi District. 

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DAY THIRTEEN

On Wednesday, RPF-Inkotanyi flag bearer, President Paul Kagame campaigns in Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts.

Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Gatsibo District and Kayonza District.

Meanwhile, Green Party presidential candidate, Frank Habineza will be holding rallies in Gicumbi district.

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DAY TWELVE

Today is the 12th day of the 2017 presidential campaigns.

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate takes a day off. He was scheduled to have rallies in Musanze, Nyabihu and Rubavu districts but they’ve been called off. He continues his rallies on Wednesday.

Green Party’s Frank Habineza will spend day eleven of the presidential campaigns in Kigabiro, Rwamagana District.

Independent Candidate, Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Gicumbi District of Northern Province.

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DAY ELEVEN

We are into the 11th day of the 2017 presidential elections.

President Kagame of the RPF-Inkotanyi is off after holding three rallies on Sunday in Kirehe, Ngoma and Rwamagana Districts.

On Moday,  Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Kabaya & Gatumba sectors of Ngororero District & Bulinga sector in Muhanga District.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party on Monday campaigns in Juru Sector, Bugesera District.

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DAY TEN

It's Day Ten of the 2017 Presidential campaigns.

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame goes to three districts on Sunday. His first rally takes place in Kirehe District and later, he will campaign in Ngoma and Rwamagana Districts.

Green Party's Frank Habineza campaigns in Nyaruguru District and he'll thereafter head to Huye District for his second rally on Sunday afternoon.

Philippe Mpayimana starts his campaigns in Biryogo Cell, Nyarugenge District. Later on Sunday, he will hold rallies in Kicukiro centre, Gikondo, Remera and Kanombe .

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Kagame addressing a rally in Rwamagana District on Sunday. 
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RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame arrives in Rwamagana District.
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Democratic Green Party's Frank Habineza campaigned in Kibeho Sector on Sunday. 
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After Kirehe District, RPF candidate Paul Kagame on Sunday held a rally in Ngoma District. 
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In Ngoma District, thousands attended Paul Kagame's rally on Sunday. 
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On Sunday, First Lady Mrs Jeannette Kagame joined the RPF-Inkotanyi Presidential Campaign in Kirehe District. (Courtesy)
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Musician, Senderi who hails from Nyarubuye Sector, Kirehe District told us he was excited to be back home campaigning with RPF.
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Mpayimana at his first rally in Biryogo Cell on Sunday. Later he campaigned in Kicukiro centre, Gikondo, Remera and Kanombe.

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Day NINE

On Day NINE of the 2017 presidential campaigns, RPF-Inkotanyi flag bearer, Paul Kagame is in the Eastern Province where he is set to hold FOUR rallies.

On Saturday, Kagame will address two rallies in Nyagatare District and later continue in the Districts of Kayonza and Ngoma.

Independent candidate Mpayimana will be in Kamonyi District on Saturday.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green party goes to Nyamagabe district and later Nyanza District.

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RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame on Saturday campaigns in the Eastern Province where he holds FOUR rallies.
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Mpayimana campaigns in Kivumu Cell, Musambira Sector of Kamonyi District on Saturday. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Kamonyi District in Saturday. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Residents of Kamonyi attend Mpayimana's rally on Saturday.

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Day Eight 

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate is off today.

Green party's Frank Habineza goes to Ruhango and Gisagara districts in Southern Province on Friday. 

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Day Seven

It’s now seven days since the 2017 presidential elections kicked off.

RPF-Inkotanyi flag bearer, Paul Kagame will hold rallies in Rulindo and Nyarugenge districts on Thursday. The RPF Chairman promised to visit every district in the country during these presidential campaigns.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party campaigns in Karongi and Muhanga districts in Western and Southern provinces, respectively.

Meanwhile, Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana travels to Rubavu for yet another round of election campaigns.

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President Pau lKagame campaigns in Nyarugenge District at 'Tapis Rouge' next to Nyamirambo Stadium. (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters are have gathered at 'Tapis Rouge' site next to Nyamirambo Stadium.  (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Kagame: Let us continue building a country in which our children will thrive, with opportunity. (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Addressing residents of Rulindo, RPF candidate Paul Kagame praised the cooperation that has existed between RPF and other parties over the years saying that the country is where it is because of working together with other parties.   (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Speaking at an RPF rally in Rulindo District on Thursday, PSD president, Vincent Biruta said that his party's relationship with RPF dates back to 25 years.  (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Mpayimana speaks to his supporters in Rambura sector Nyabihu district. (Photo by James Habimana)
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NEC Chairman, Prof. Mbanda (L) with Mpayimana at Thursday's campaigns.
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Habineza campaigned in Nyarusange site in Muhanga District. 

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DAY SIX

It’s Day Six of the 2017 presidential campaigns.

RPF-Inkotanyi is having three rallies this Wednesday, the first taking place in Nyabugogo before their candidate President Paul Kagame embarks on rallies in Bugesera and Kicuciro districts.

Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimama campaigns in the districts of Karongi and Rutsiro. Our reporter, James Habimana has been informed by his campaign team that rallies that were supposed to start at 8am will be held at 2pm.

Meanwhile, Democratic Green Party candidate, Frank Habineza will hold campaigns in Rulindo and Nyabihu on Wednesday.

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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters at President Paul Kagame's  rally in Bugesera. The RPF flag bearer held rallies in Nyabugogo, Gahanga and Bugesera on the sixth day of the presidential campaigns.
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President Paul Kagame and RPF-Inkotanyi Chairman was accompanied by a big number of supporters during his three rallies on Wednesday.  
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Philippe Mpayimana campaigns in Rubengera District on Day Six of the presidential campaigns.
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Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana arrives in Rubengera Sector, Karongi district for his rally on Wednesday.
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In Mayange Sector, thousands of supporters, including PSD party members have gathered to welcome RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame (Photo by Eugene Kwibuka)
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Green Party supporters have turned up in large numbers  for this rally in Base Sector, Rulindo District. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Frank Habineza, a presidential candidate from the Democratic Green Party arrives at Rwamahwa site, Base Sector in Rulindo district for his campaigns on Wednesday. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Some motorists attending the rally of Green Party candidate, Frank Habineza in Rulindo. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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This is in Karongi town where we expect Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana to hold his rally later on Wednesday. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Explosive crowd of RPF-Inkotanyi supporters stationed in Nyabugogo where their candidate, Paul Kagame campaigns on Wednesday.  
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Musicians entertain RPF supporters gathered at the newly built City Centre-Nyabugogo road. (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Musicians entertain RPF supporters gathered at the newly built City Centre-Nyabugogo road. (Photos by Athan Tashobya)
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Democratic Green Party candidate Frank Habineza is accompanied by motorists as he heads to Rulindo for his first rally on Wednesday. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Democratic Green Party candidate Frank Habineza rides on top of his Land-cruiser as he heads to Rulindo. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Thousands of Nyabugogo residents have gathered at the newly built City Centre-Nyabugogo road where RPF-Inkotanyi presidential candidate, Paul Kagame is set to hold a rally Wednesday morning.
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DAY FIVE

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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters at Ngororero stadium where Paul Kagame campaigned on Tuesday.
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Thousands gathered at Ngororero Stadium where RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame campaigned on Tuesday. 
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President Kagame arrives at Ngororero Stadium on Tuesday where he holds his eighth rally of the presidential campaigns. 
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President Kagame greets RPF supporters at Ngororero Stadium on Tuesday where he holds his eighth rally of the presidential campaigns. 
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PL Party members also traveled to Muhanga District to show support to RPF-Inkotanyi candidate Paul Kagame. 
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Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana arrives in Nyamasheke District where he will address his rally.  (Photo by James Habimana)
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Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party arrives in Kirehe District for his rally. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Frank Habineza waves to the few people who turned up for his rally. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Frank Habineza addressing people who turned up for his rally in Kirehe District. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is back on the campaign trail this Tuesday with rallies in Ngororero and Muhanga districts.

Democartic Green Party chief and flag bearer, Frank Habineza will be holding rallies in the districts of Ngoma and Kirehe.

Independent Candidate, Philippe Mpayimana goes to Nyamasheke District.

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DAY FOUR

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame takes a day off Monday after covering seven districts over the weekend. He plans to hold visit all 30 districts during the presidential campaigns. On Tuesday he will hold rallies in Muhanga and Ngororero districts.

Democratic Green Party candidate Frank Habineza travels to the Eastern Province in the districts of Nyagatare and Gatsibo on Monday.

Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana is in Nyamagabe District for Day Four of the campaigns.

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DAY THREE

 

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RPF-Inkotanyi flag-bearer, incumbent President Paul Kagame, greets a 107-year-old woman during his rally in Nyamagabe District in Southern Province yesterday. (Courtesy)

 

We are into Day three of the 2017 presidential elections.

RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame will continue his campaign trail in the Southern Province with rallies in Nyamagabe, Huye, and Kamonyi districts.

Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party will not be campaigning this Sunday.  On Monday he will travel to the Eastern Province in the districts of  Nyagatare and Gatsibo. 

Meanwhile, independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana is expected in Save Sector, Gisagara district for Day Three of the presidential campaigns. Later in the afternoon, Mpayimana will hold a rally in Mukura sector, Huye District. 

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Musicians entertain RPF supporters who turned up for Sunday's final rally at Kiryamocyinzovu site, Kamonyi District. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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Thousands of RPF-Inkotanyi supporters have gathered in Rukoma Sector, Kamonyi District where candidate Kagame will hold his last rally of Day Three of the presidential campaigns.
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An RPF supporter clad in party colours dances during Paul Kagame's rally in Huye District. 
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Mammoth crowd in hundreds of 1000s welcomed the RPF-Inkotanyi candidate. (Photo by Julius Bizimungu)
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Addressing RPF-Inkotanyi supporters in Huye District, Paul Kagame thanked them for turning up in large numbers saying that, "Its an indication you already made your choice"
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Philippe Mpayimana is extended his rallies to Mukura sector, Huye district (Photo by James Habimana)
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Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana (blue suit) campaigning in Save sector, Gisagara District. He will make a stop over in Gishamvu sector. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Kagame tells Nyamagabe residents that voting RPF-Inkotanyi means choosing transformation, security, economic growth, education and health for your children.
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RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame addresses supporters at Nyagisenyi Stadium, Nyamagabe District.
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RPF-Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame arrives at Nyagisenyi Stadium for his rally in Nyamagabe District. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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Independent candidate, Philippe Mpayimana is expected to hold a rally at this venue in Save Sector, Gisagara District. (Photo by James Habimana)
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DAY TWO
 
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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters turned up in thousands during president Paul Kagame's rally in Nyaruguru on Saturday. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)

Saturday, is the second day of the 2017 Presidential campaigns.

After very successful rallies in Ruhango and Nyanza Districts on Friday, RPF- Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is scheduled to meet supporters in Nyaruguru District in the Saturday morning and later he travels to Gisagara District for his final rally of the day.

Frank Habineza, the flag bearer and president of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, will be in Nyamasheke District, Western Province.

 Meanwhile, independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana heads to Muhanga and Nyanza districts for the second day of his campaigns.

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This is in Ruhango town, the site where independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana was supposed to hold his campaigns. No sign of him yet. (Photo by James Habimana)
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Masamba Intore thrills RPF -Inkotanyi supporters in Nyaruguru District where Paul Kagame is campaigning. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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Democratic Green Party of Rwanda candidate Frank Habineza arrives campaign site in Birambo, Nyamasheke District (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters in Nyaruguru Districts, Nyagisozi sector, turned up in large numbers to back their candidate, Paul Kagame. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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Our reporter Janvier Nshimyumukiza conducting an interview in Gisagara where RPF-Inkotanyi candidate Paul Kagame will hold a rally Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Julius Bizimungu)
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Democratic Green Party of Rwanda supporters sing and dance during Frank Habineza's rally in Nyamasheke. (Photo by Jean d'Amour Mbonyinshuti)
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Independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana is expected to hold his rally at this place in Ruhango town. But he hadn't appeared by mid-day. (Photo by James Habimana) 

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DAY ONE

Presidential campaigns got underway today with particularly thousands turning up for incumbent President Paul Kagame’s rally in Ruhango District.

Kagame is the flag bearer of the RPF-Inkotanyi, the governing party that came to power 23 years ago after liberating the country and ending the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Kagame is also backed by nine other political parties, whose leaders have been seen with Kagame or RPF campaign symbols at the rally in Ruhango.

Tens of thousands thronged the campaign venue in Ruhango town since early morning, with Kagame expected to address the gathering mid-morning before proceeding to Nyanza District for his second rally later in the day.

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RPF-Inkotanyi supporters turned up in thousands during president Paul Kagame's rally in Nyanza on Friday. (Courtesy)

Kagame heads to Nyanza for his second rally of the day

President Paul Kagame is now addressing residents of Nyanza district after a successful campaign in neighboring Ruhango district. 

Like, Ruhango district the RPF flag bearer was greeted by jubilating supporters in Nyanza district as they sang and danced to party songs.

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Older citizens were among those waiting for RPF candidate Paul Kagame in Nyanza on Friday. (Photo by Athan Tashobya)
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Speaker of Parliament and PL party chief Donatille Mukabalisa (3rd left), along with other party officials at Kagame's rally in Ruhango on Friday

Both Ruhango, Kagame’s birthplace, and Nyanza are in Southern Province.

Hundreds of Kagame’s supporters lined the streets along his path to the country’s south, including in Kigali’s commercial hub of Nyabugogo, waiting for the RPF candidate’s motorcade. 

Kagame has arrived at the campaign venue but was yet to speak.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana has arrived in Nyamata town, Bugesera District in Eastern Province where he is set to address his first rally.

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Mpayimana is Nyamata for his first rally on Friday.

Arriving about two hours behind the schedule, Mpayimana was seen by our reporter walking around town encouraging residents to turn up for his rally at Nyamata stadium. 

Frank Habineza, the flag bearer and president of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, headed to Rusizi in Western Province from where he will be launching his campaigns.

He was yet to arrive at the venue.  

Meanwhile, as the candidates head to the countryside to kick-start their campaigns, the campaign mood is starting to be visible in the capital Kigali with campaigns putting up party flags, banners and posters around major public places such as roundabouts.  

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Musicians entertain RPF-Inkotanyi supporters in Ruhango where Paul Kagame is addressing his first rally of the 2017 presidential elections on Friday (Photo by Athan Tashobya)

RPF and Kagame’s campaign materials are by far the dominant feature.  

Businesses are expected to cash in on voters’ enthusiasm with many people expected to spend on campaign T-shirts, hats, among other materials.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw