Rwanda holds 2nd presidential poll since genocide
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Last Updated: Monday, August 09, 2010, 00:05
Kigali (Rwanda): For weeks, Rwandan President Paul Kagame has rallied his supporters with thumping pop music and promised to build on his economic and social development record that has won him accolades abroad.

As polls prepare to open tomorrow at 0930 IST in Rwanda's second presidential election since the 1994 genocide, few doubt Kagame will win.

The lean, professorial leader is expected to easily win the loyalties of the country's 5.2 million voters. But the run-up to the campaign has been marred by a series of recent attacks on outspoken critics of Kagame's government, and some of the more vocal opposition politicians say they've been barred from participating.

During the three-week campaign period, Kagame's image has been everywhere. At rallies he shed his business suit and tie for a shirt and jacket emblazoned with his Rwanda Patriotic Front insignia topped with a baseball cap bearing the party's red, white and blue flag. He has also tried to shed his image as a stiff leader, joining in dances and clapping along as crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands sang and danced at his daily rallies across the tiny, landlocked country.

Those rallies were part of a carefully choreographed campaign, which included a local pop group playing what has become the president's re-election theme song, "Tora Kagame," or Vote Kagame in Kinyarwanda, and live updates on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

His supporters say the huge crowds represent genuine popular support for the leader who transformed this central African nation after the brutal 100-day genocide that left at least 5,00,000 people dead.

Taye Manzi said he trusts Kagame because he has united the nation of 10 million people.

"He supports the youth, he supports gender, he is the one who can bring us together," said Manzi, who took time off from his job in the capital, Kigali, to travel to his home region to attend one of Kagame's rallies.


First Published: Monday, August 09, 2010, 00:05

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