By John Ikani
Rwanda is set to conduct presidential and parliamentary elections on July 15 next year, as announced by the election commission on Tuesday. President Paul Kagame, at 66, is gearing up for a fourth term in office.
“Throughout the country, the polling date for the president of the Republic and 53 deputies elected from a list proposed by political organizations or for independent candidates is Monday, 15 July 2024,” affirmed the National Electoral Commission on X, formerly Twitter.
Kagame, a figure with a decades-long grip on the landlocked African nation, made controversial constitutional amendments in 2015, enabling him to extend his tenure until 2034. Originally assuming the presidency in April 2000, Kagame, a former rebel chief, has effectively led since the aftermath of the 1994 genocide.
Elected with over 90 percent of the vote in 2003, 2010, and 2017, Kagame faces a potential challenge from opposition Green Party leader Frank Habineza in the upcoming elections, as declared in May.
The campaign period for candidates is set from June 22 to July 12, as outlined by the election commission.
Despite Rwanda’s claim to stability, rights groups accuse Kagame of governing in an atmosphere of fear, suppressing dissent and free speech. In a noteworthy move, the Rwandan government in March synchronized the dates for parliamentary and presidential elections.