Rwandan President Paul Kagame moved towards a second seven-year term yesterday after preliminary results gave the war veteran 93 per cent of the vote in more than a third of the country's districts.
Mr Kagame urged supporters to await the final tally, but said he did not expect the outcome to change and the apparent margin of his win came as little surprise. In the last election in 2003, Mr Kagame won 95 per cent of the vote. A repeat performance was predicted, partly because of the economic growth and stability he has delivered but also because of a crackdown on rivals and critics.
"It's really a coronation of Mr Kagame. I don't think we'd call it a genuine election," said Muzong Kodi, an Africa analyst at the Chatham House think-tank. "It's not the manner in which the polling has been organised. The election results are decided months in advance of the polling by the way the opposition was treated, by the way dissent was clamped down on," he said.
Preliminary results showed that in 11 out of 30 districts Mr Kagame had garnered 1,610,422 out of 1,734,671 votes cast.
Supporters of Mr Kagame, who has been in control since his rebel army ended the genocide of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, hailed their hero as fireworks crowned the victory celebrations. Mr Kagame danced rigidly in front of a sea of euphoric, flag-waving supporters.