18, December 2016
The leader of Rwanda’s sole government-recognized opposition party has announced plans for standing as a candidate in next year’s presidential election. Frank Habineza, with the Democratic Green party, announced the decision on Saturday after a meeting with party leaders in the capital, Kigali. “I have accepted your request to represent you as the presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential election, which will take place on 4th August 2017,” he said.
Habineza will challenge President Paul Kagame. The incumbent leader, who took power in 1994 at the head of a rebel army, had previously come forward as a candidate. Rwanda’s parliament passed amendments to the constitution this year to allow Kagame to stand for re-election for another seven-year term.
Over the past years, Kagame has faced criticism for the lack of political freedoms in Rwanda, although the country is regularly praised for its stability and economic performance. Kagame’s government has refused to recognize several opposition parties, barring them from contesting elections. The United Democratic Forces (FDU) is the most prominent of all those parties. Its leader, Victoire Ingabire, was arrested in 2010 while campaigning against Kagame.
Habineza vowed at the end of the Saturday party congress that his main goal would be to establish democracy in Rwanda. “Democracy does not come from the sky, it won’t come from America or Europe, we are the ones who have to fight for it,” Habineza said, adding, “We want to bring democracy to this country.”