Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame sealed a crushing victory Friday in an election that granted him a third term in office, extending his 17 years in power.

Kagame has won international plaudits for presiding over a peaceful and rapid economic recovery in this East African nation since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.

But he has also faced mounting criticism for what critics and rights groups say are widespread human rights abuses, a muzzling of independent media and suppression of political opposition.

With 80 percent of the votes accounted for, the 59-year-old former guerrilla leader secured 98.66 percent, the National Electoral Commission’s executive secretary, Charles Munyaneza, said at a news conference.

“We expect that even if we get 100 percent of votes, there will not be any change,” he said.

The board expected turnout to top 90 percent in the country of 12 million once full details emerged in an election that fielded only a single opposition candidate, Frank Habineza, and an independent.

“Even if I am poor, I voted for Kagame for restoring peace and security,” said 45-year-old farmer Appolinaire Karangwa, who cast his ballot in Kigali, the capital.

Kagame, who cast his vote in Kigali’s Rugunga polling station, said later that he would work to sustain economic growth in the tiny nation.

“This is another seven years to take care of issues that affect Rwandans and ensure that we become real Rwandans who are [economically] developing,” he said in a speech broadcast live on television.

Under his rule, some dissidents were killed after they fled abroad, in cases that remain unsolved. The government denies any involvement.

Kagame, a commander who led Tutsi rebel forces into Rwanda to end the 1994 genocide, banned the use of tribal terms after becoming president.

He won the last election in 2010 with 93 percent of the vote and said during his campaign for a further seven-year term that he expected an outright victory.

Habineza, who had so far won 0.45 percent of the early count, had promised to set up a tribunal to retry dissidents whose convictions by Rwandan courts have been criticized as politically motivated.

Another would-be opponent, Diane Rwigara, was disqualified by the election board despite her insistence that she met all the requirements to run.

“To me I see this as a one-man race. I simply did not go to vote,” said one man in Kigali who asked not to be named.