Rwanda starts vote count as incumbent president eyes another term

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-05 00:17:21|Editor: yan
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KIGALI, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Rwanda has started counting votes of presidential elections which kicked off Friday. Analysts expect incumbent President Paul Kagame, who is seeking a third term, will gain another landslide victory.

The president for the next seven years is elected by universal suffrage in one uninominal round ballot.

Tallying process in overseas countries have also started, where 98 polling stations were set up for around 44,000 voters.

National Electoral Commission of Rwanda (NEC) said the preliminary results will be announced late Friday.

There has not been any major incidence so far, local media The New Times quoted NEC official as saying.

"No major incidence, there were a few people who could not find their names on the voting lists since they had not transferred their names, which has since been sorted out. We communicated to the volunteers to allow them to use their national IDs," said Charles Munyaneza, Executive Secretary of NEC.

NEC will begin announcing results from the various districts from around 7:30 p.m. with the preliminary results to be announced by 10 p.m., according to Munyaneza.

More than 2,300 polling sites comprising nearly 17,000 polling stations were open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the ballot are Kagame of the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.

Many Rwandan voters cast ballots before 11 a.m.. "This is a wonderful day in my life. I'm proud to have voted a candidate I hope will impact my life," said voter Josephat Masabo, at a polling station in Kacyiru, Kigali.

Rwandans in the diaspora cast their votes on Thursday.

Kagame arrived at the Ape-Rugunga polling station in Nyarugenge district in the company of Secretary General of RPF Francois Ngarambe and First Lady Jeannette and his children.

The incumbent president cast his vote around 11:12 a.m.

RPF's manifesto mainly focused on strengthening the economy, citizen's social welfare, and good governance among others.

Habineza is the first presidential candidate to cast vote. Speaking to journalists, Habineza said Friday's exercise for his party being the first time to appear on the ballot paper was a very big step forward for democracy in Rwanda, and expressed his confidence to win the election.

He said his confidence was based on much support the party received countrywide during the campaign trail.

"We believe that victory is not easy but it not impossible. We are going to win very big tonight. There is full confidence. We met many people who want democratic change and wishing to see a new president, many said after 23 years surely we need change, we need a new leader," he added.

Habineza said in case the results come out not in his favour he would still accept the outcome if the election exercise is free and fair.

Mpayimana, an independent candidate, also voted at Camp Kigali at mid-day. He also said he would welcome the outcome of the election whatever the results.

Nearly 6.9 million voters are expected to cast their votes, among which 54 percent are women, according to NEC.

The central African country has received over 1,800 observers including more than 400 from the international community.