Kagame rival calls election 'Stalinist'

Declan Walsh
Wednesday 27 August 2003 00:00
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The Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, tightened his grip on power, winning a landslide victory in Monday's controversial poll and drubbing his main rival, who rejected the result.

Early counts gave Mr Kagame, the one-time rebel leader who ended the 1994 genocide, 95 per cent of the vote compared with just 3.62 per cent for the Hutu politician, Faustin Twagiramungu. Mr Twagiramungu described the figures as "ridiculous", saying: "They are trying to have a Stalinist-style one-party system. I do not accept this election."

Mr Kagame has dominated politics since seizing power nine years ago, ending the slaughter of more than 500,000 Tutsis and Hutus. Supporters said the election was a step towards reconciliation but critics said he prized power over democracy. Mr Kagame told a 3am rally in Kigali's Amahoro (peace) stadium that his victory "should be a message to the outside world that Rwanda is on the right path". The win was more remarkable because Mr Kagame is a Tutsi and 85 per cent of Rwandans are Hutu.

Mr Twagiramungu's officials and supporters complained of being harassed and imprisoned. Mr Kagame said they were promoting ethnic "divisionism", a reference to fears of further genocide.

Police said they had not found any proof of harassment. Foreign election monitors are due to report today. Mr Twagiramungu said he expected to be imprisoned for complaining. Several other Hutu politicians, including Pasteur Bizimungu (the President from 1994 to 2000) are being detained.

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