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Kagame expected to win Rwanda 'landslide'

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 09 August 2010

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame is expected to win a landslide victory as the country goes to the polls today for only the second time since the end of the genocide in 1994.

Posters campaigning for Paul Kagame in Rwanda's Presidential poll (Credit: Reuters)

Many of the more than five million registered voters were queuing to vote even before polls opened before dawn this morning and one polling stations was reported to have shut after all its registered voters had cast their ballots in the first hour.

Provisional results are due to be posted by Wednesday.

Referred to by his supporters simply as "Paul", Kagame became President in 2000 and won the last election in 2003 with a 95 per cent majority.

He has campaigned during this election under the slogan "Choose Peace", and is expected to achieve a landslide win to secure another seven-year term.

The 52-year-old former exiled rebel leader is credited with turning the country around to become one of the most successful developing nations in the world.

His government has won plaudits for its handling of the economy, lack of corruption and for making significant strides in improving health and education. The Rwandan capital Kigali is now known for its orderliness and lack of crime.

But critics say there has been an increasing tendency in recent months to clampdown hard on opposition voices.

Only three relatively unknown and low-profile candidates are standing against the president, all serving members of the national government with links to the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front.

Three further opposition groups were barred from entering the race. The vice-president of one party, the Democratic Greens, was found murdered last month and two other leaders have been charged under anti-genocide legislation.

Many journalists are now in exile following legal action from the government. One who remained was murdered outside his house in Kigali in June, though there is no evidence to indicate government involvement.

Kagame has been Rwanda's de facto leader ever since his rebel army ended the ethnic violence which killed 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus 16 years ago.

Since then he has urged the population to define themselves as 'Rwandan' rather than Tutsi or Hutu and has instigated strict laws against 'genocide ideology' which have now been used to silence his political rivals.

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