The United States has expressed concern over the lack of transparency in determining the eligibility of prospective candidates for the just concluded presidential race in Rwanda.
The election board disqualified another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.
Paul Kagame, the controversial president of Rwanda, won a landslide victory in the small African state’s election, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.
The result will surprise no one, inside or outside Rwanda.
In a statement, Department of State spokesperson Heather Nauert says they are also disturbed by irregularities observed during voting and reiterates long-standing concerns over the integrity of the vote-tabulation process.
Nauert also expressed hope the new electoral law to be debated in the next session of Parliament will clarify that process well before the 2018 parliamentary elections.
She reaffirms the United States commitment to support the people of Rwanda in their efforts to build strong democratic and inclusive institutions in order to ensure long-term stability and a democratic, prosperous
Kagame led rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide and went on to wage further wars in the region. He won the last election in 2010 with 93% of the vote, and said during this campaign that he again expected an outright victory.
Despite some discontent over joblessness and other issues, the president appears authentically popular in Rwanda, which has had some of the fastest economic growth rates in Africa and has become known for its stability in a deeply troubled region.
Kagame, 59, has won international praise for the stability and economic development he has brought Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people were killed, but he has also been accused of running an authoritarian, one-party state. Some have dismissed the polls as a sham.
Reuters reported that voters celebrated the election result into the early hours of Saturday after Kagame was declared winner.
“Last night was fantastic. People kept coming in until my bar had more than 200 people. I usually get 100 on normal days. They were all celebrating and I left at 2am, but they were still dancing and more were coming,” said John Habimana, owner of the popular Roasty Bar in Kigali.
Other residents were less happy, the agency said. “To me I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said one man in the capital who asked not to be named.
“This election was criticised so much due to me continuing to be your leader, especially people from outside the country because they oppose the will of Rwandans,” he told supporters. “But Rwandans have shown that it was not manipulated by anyone but their own will.”