President-elect Paul Kagame, who swept to a massive victory in Friday’s poll, has said the work to continue transforming Rwanda begins now.
With 80 per cent of votes counted, the incumbent President garnered an unassailable 98.66 per cent, according to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Kagame’s challengers, independent Philippe Mpayimana, and Frank Habineza, of Green Party, scrapped only 0.72 per cent and 0.45 per cent, respectively.
Full provisional results will be released today, Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, the NEC chairperson, told the nation during a televised media briefing past midnight.
In his victory speech in front of thousands of jubilant supporters at the recently inaugurated RPF-Inkotanyi headquarters in Rusororo, Gasabo District, Kagame thanked the different people who played a part in his successful presidential campaign.
Kagame stood on the ticket of the governing RPF-Inkotanyi but his re-election bid was backed by eight opposition parties, including those that previously fielded candidates against him in the race for presidency.
Kagame has previously won presidential polls twice; in 2003 when he got 95.5 per cent of the votes cast and then in 2010 when he won by 93 per cent.
Yesterday’s poll was the country’s third after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, which Kagame is credited with ending.
Kagame said he had accepted to continue leading the country because Rwandans requested for it and that he was ready to lead the country to further progress.
“I am here because I honoured your request. Today is proof that this election was truly about the will of the people. Despite the critics of our democracy, you have proven that Rwandans know what they want,” he said amid ululations.
Kagame accepted to run for re-election after nearly four million Rwandans petitioned Parliament to lift constitutional restrictions to his continued stewardship of the country.
The previous constitution provided for maximum two seven-year terms. However, a December 2015 referendum reduced the mandate to two five-year terms, maximum, but provided for a transition of a seven-year term, and allowed Kagame to seek re-election.
Like Kagame’s election victory margin, the constitutional amendment was endorsed by 98 per cent of the voters.
“Now the work begins, to continue transforming Rwanda and ensuring a dignified life for every citizen,” Kagame told the party members and nation around 1am.
The incumbent President, who has been at the helm of the country since 2000, has promised to grow the economy further, enhance social welfare, and promote good governance and justice.
He thanked all his campaign managers and RPF supporters, youthful volunteers who worked hard throughout the campaigns, the artistes who supported his bid, his family, and everyone who helped organise his campaigns.
He also acknowledged the servicemen and women who keep citizens and country safe.
Kagame ran on the platform of his impressive track record over the years and a promise to continue on the path of the country’s transformation process.
Throughout the three-week campaign, the RPF Chairman’s rallies pulled mammoth crowds wherever he went across the country, with his final rally in Gasabo District attracting an estimated half a million people on Wednesday.
Kagame thanked the opposition parties that backed his candidacy and his challengers in the just-concluded poll for their contribution toward the country’s democratisation process.
Meanwhile, Mpayimana conceded defeat and congratulated Kagame during a statement delivered on the public broadcaster, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, shortly after the announcement of the results.
Nearly seven million Rwandans participated in the poll, with over 44,000 casting their vote in the Diaspora.