Rwanda's tiny opposition picks candidate to oppose Kagame in August poll

Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:05am GMT

By Clement Uwiringiyimana

KIGALI (Reuters) - The head of Rwanda's only registered opposition party, the tiny Green Party, said on Sunday he will stand against President Paul Kagame, who is expected to run for third term in August presidential polls.

Kagame is widely admired by many for restoring stability to the East African nation after its 1994 genocide, presiding over rapid economic growth and creating a relatively corruption-free government.

But rights activists say those achievements have come at the expense of civil liberties. Some of Kagame's political opponents have been killed after they fled abroad, in cases that remain unsolved.

Frank Habineza was elected to oppose Kagame in a Green Party congress of about 400 members. His platform includes investing in agriculture, increasing salaries for the security forces and ending political detentions.

Habineza says the party has about 500,000 members out of an of about 6 million and a population of 11.8 million.

He said his tiny party faces sabotage and intimidation from the ruling party when they hold meetings and accused the ruling party of putting pressure on his supporters to join.

"He (Kagame) has more money. He has been in power for 20 years. They have companies. We are not scared of that," he added.

But Senator Tito Rutaremara, a commissioner in the ruling party, said Habineza was lying.   Continued...

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame attends the 53rd Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
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