Stampede Tragedy Hits Rwanda Election Campaign for Kagame, One Killed
Stampede Tragedy Hits Rwanda Election Campaign for Kagame, One Killed

KIGALI: A campaign rally for President Paul Kagame turned tragic as one person died and dozens were injured in a stampede, according to Rwanda's national broadcaster. The incident occurred ahead of a highly anticipated election that is likely to extend Kagame’s 24-year tenure marked by firm control.

President Kagame has effectively governed Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide, which claimed around 800,000 lives, predominantly Tutsis but also moderate Hutus. At 66 years old and in power since 2000, he faces familiar challengers in the upcoming election: Frank Habineza of the opposition Democratic Green Party and Philippe Mpayimana, a former journalist running independently.

Campaigning began recently, with Kagame addressing rallies in Musanze and Rubavu in northern Rwanda over the weekend. The fatal stampede occurred during a rally in Rubavu, where 37 others were injured, as reported by the state-run Rwanda Broadcasting Agency.

"The Ministry of Local Government has urged campaign participants to strictly follow safety regulations to ensure security," the broadcaster emphasized.

Rwanda's courts have rejected appeals from prominent opposition figures Bernard Ntaganda and Victoire Ingabire to overturn prior convictions that barred them from running. Additionally, the election commission disqualified Kagame critic Diane Rwigara, citing failure to provide a criminal record statement and falling short of the required 600 supporting signatures.

Kagame first assumed the presidency in 2000 following the resignation of former President Pasteur Bizimungu. He has since won three elections by significant margins, securing over 90 percent of the vote in 2003, 2010, and nearly 99 percent in 2017. While praised for Rwanda's economic recovery post-genocide, Kagame's administration has faced criticism for human rights violations and political repression.

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