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Astronauts stuck in the space station are confident the Boeing Starliner will bring them home

Astronauts stuck in the space station are confident the Boeing Starliner will bring them home
Astronauts stuck in the space station are confident the Boeing Starliner will bring them home

KIGALI: Rwandan President Paul Kagame is expected to have a smooth start to his fourth term in office in Monday’s election. Two opposition candidates may run against him, but expectations are modest.
Kagame, 66, was one of the leaders of the rebel movement that ended the Rwandan genocide in 1994 and has been president since 2000. He has only two rivals, as six other potential candidates were barred from running by the state electoral commission.
Kagame won nearly 99 percent of the vote in the last election in 2017. The election followed a constitutional amendment that removed term limits that would have barred him from running again.
His re-election could be a sign of greater stability, but given allegations of human rights abuses and ongoing tensions with neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, it also means continued international scrutiny.
During his time in office, Kagame has won widespread praise for rebuilding the country of 14 million people after a genocide that killed more than a million people. Rwanda has become a regional financial center.
But Western states and human rights activists accused his government of silencing the media, murdering opposition politicians and supporting rebel groups in neighboring Congo.
International criticism was exacerbated by the migration agreement that Rwanda signed in 2022 to accept thousands of asylum seekers from Britain. Newly elected British Prime Minister Keir Starmer confirmed on Saturday that he would terminate the agreement.
The Rwandan government denies all allegations against it and promised continued development and stability during the election campaign.
“With you, there is nothing our country cannot achieve, because you have leaders today who are not stupid, and you are not stupid,” he told young supporters at a rally in the Eastern Province last week.
TWO CHALLENGERS
Eight candidates applied to run against Kagame, but only two made it onto the final list approved by the electoral commission. The others, including Kagame’s most vocal critics, were declared invalid for various reasons, including previous criminal convictions.
The two approved candidates, Frank Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana, ran against Kagame in 2017.
In an interview with Reuters, Habineza, leader of the Democratic Green Party, said he expected to exceed his 2017 total of 0.48 percent of the vote.
“People only look at 2017 and say I got 0.4 percent, but they forget that our party ran for parliament and got more than 5 percent,” he said.
Mpayimana, who works for the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, urged voters at a campaign rally to consider his candidacy.
“It is true that you cannot change the winning team, but we must also give the junior teams the opportunity to see if they can keep their promises. That is democracy,” he said.
More than 9 million voters are registered for the election, which will also elect members of the 80-seat lower house. Preliminary results are expected by July 20.