Rwanda: President’s Lopsided Re-election Is Seen as a Sign of Oppression | The New York Times

The re-election of Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s longtime president, had never been in question. But opponents and rights advocates say his nearly 99 percent margin of victory reflects what they call an oppressive political environment that stifles dissent in the central African nation. The lopsidedness of the result of the Friday vote giving Mr. Kagame a third seven-year term, announced on Saturday, was no surprise to supporters. They called it an accurate barometer of his enormous popularity in transforming Rwanda from the post-genocide depths into a beacon of African prosperity and stability. “People trust him. If it were not democratic, he could even score 100 percent,” said Wellers Gasamagera, the spokesman for Mr. Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front political party. “There is nothing strange as to the high score in terms of votes.” Still, the results also punctuated the glaring absence of a viable opposition in Rwanda. Dissenting views are frequently silenced.

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