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Rwandan president plans victory party ahead of early election results

In its second presidential election since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda is expected to re-elect President Paul Kagame, who faces accusations of political repression.

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Anil Gayan, a former Mauritius foreign minister and the head of a 20-nation African Union mission that observed the elections, recalled his discussions with members of the three opposition parties allowed to run. He said he was expecting some disgruntlement, as is normal in any hotly contested election. "I was expecting something like, 'Look, we have been denied access to this and that, or there is an overwhelming disparity between the means of the president and us,' " said Gayan. "But I got the answer, 'We are happy with this. There is no problem.' "

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Other opposition leaders have been arrested or intimidated. Last month, the deputy leader of one of the parties not permitted to take part in Monday's elections was brutally murdered, his head nearly severed from his body. An American lawyer for a jailed opposition candidate was also arrested and later released.

Journalists critical of Kagame have also been targeted. Two independent newspapers were suspended; the deputy editor of one of them was shot to death in front of his house after he had written an article that alleged the government was behind an assassination attempt in South Africa of Kagame's former army chief of staff, who had defected from his fold.

Critics say that a key reason for the official repression is that Kagame is facing dissent within his own ranks. Kagame and key officials in his party have denied playing any role in the recent assaults.

For now, Rwandans are waiting to usher in the next era of Kagame's rule.

When asked if she would attend the victory party, Mukamurangwa declared:

"I wouldn't miss it."


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