RPF-Inkotanyi flag-bearer, incumbent President Paul Kagame, who, along with two other candidates, hit the campaign trail Friday ahead of the August 4 presidential poll, has said he’s committed to working with Rwandans to continue taking the country forward.
He was addressing his first rally in Ruhango District on Day I of the presidential campaigns.
Kagame, who faces two challengers in Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent, thanked RPF-Inkotanyi and Rwandans for continuing to show trust and confidence in him.
He also thanked leaders and members of eight opposition political parties that backed his candidacy for their support, and the Green Party (that fielded its own candidate) and PS-Imberakuri (that chose not to present or support any candidate) for contributing toward the country’s democratization process.
“I want to work with you to build on the progress that we have hitherto made together,” Kagame said. “To extend electricity to every household, build more schools that provide quality education and empower our children, to provide healthcare and ensure that the people of Rwanda lead healthy and longer lives.”
He also pledged to continue promoting trade with other countries, delivering good roads and prosperity, consolidating security, as well as fostering human rights for all.
The RPF candidate said he was not disturbed by those who brand him a dictator as long as the people of Rwanda continue to freely exercise their right to choose their leaders and approve of his government’s policies.
“Those with eyes can see for themselves….If I forced anyone of the four million Rwandans that petitioned (parliament) for constitutional amendment (to allow him to stand again), or if I forced anyone of you to come here today, then I am guilty,” he said, to which the crowd shouted “nooo…”
“They forget that, ultimately, the decision rests with the people of Rwanda, sometimes they prop up a candidate of their choice only to abandon them after realising that the person they chose lacks the support of the people,” Kagame said.
Kagame, who was born in Ruhango on October 23, 1957 before he and his family fled to Uganda five years later amid government-backed violence that targeted the Tutsi, thanked the people of Ruhango for turning up in large numbers to attend the rally, and promised to continue working with them to improve their livelihoods.
The event was largely celebratory with several renowned local artistes performing songs that support Kagame’s candidacy.
“Some people have said that the result of the election is a foregone conclusion, they are not wrong, Rwandans have already made their position clear”. Nearly 4 million Rwandans petitioned Parliament to help pave the way for Kagame to seek re-election, resulting in a 2015 referendum that changed the constitution.
Kagame, who led the former RPA rebels that toppled a genocidal government that presided over the killing of more than a million Rwandans and liberated the country, first became president in 2000 after serving as vice president and defence minister for six years.
Kagame’s next stop is Nyanza District where he’s expected to address his second rally later today.
Meanwhile, Mpayimana addressed a small crowd in Nyamata in Bugesera District earlier today, while Habineza was expected to address a rally in Rusizi District.