RPF Elects Paul Kagame as Flag-bearer in Upcoming Presidential Election

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Rwanda’s ruling political party has chosen President Paul Kagame, 65, as their flag-bearer in this year’s presidential elections.

“RPF Chairman H.E. Paul Kagame was this evening elected as the party presidential flag-bearer in the upcoming elections, which will take place in July,” said the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) in a statement on Saturday.

President Kagame, who became Rwanda’s president in 2000, agreed to carry the RPF’s flag but urged the political party to look around for his successor.

“I accept this burden of responsibility, but with a call to get someone to relieve me of this responsibility,” said Kagame at the RPF headquarters today.

“That someone can only come from amongst you,” he emphasized.

Kagame is eligible to continue in office for another decade after a constitutional amendment in 2015 changed term limits that would have forced him to step down two years later.

“Please don’t sit and wait for me to give you someone (successor),” said Kagame.

“You must come up with that person yourself,” he observed, emphasizing, “This is what I asked in 2010 and again in 2017.”

Kagame has been hailed for rebuilding Rwanda after the devastating 1994 genocide and civil war.

However, human rights groups have criticized Kagame for suppressing the civil liberties of opposition figures.

Green Party and opposition leader Frank Habineza, Kagame’s only known challenger in the upcoming elections, said last year that the president’s plan to stand again “is not a surprise.”.

“We are not scared of him; we are getting organized better as a political party to put up a better campaign than we did in 2017. We are confident,” he told the AFP news agency in Kigali last year.

Kagame today said, “The burden of responsibility to lead our country can be equated to a shock absorber against the challenges we face daily; it requires the right mindset.”

Kagame further pointed out that “the only reason I reluctantly accept to continue with this responsibility (leading Rwanda) is the specific context of our country.”

“There is a special context in our country that makes it different. That includes our history and our culture. This special context is very key and should be reflected in our democratic processes.”

Kagame won the 2017 election for a seven-year term with 98.63 percent of the vote.

Kagame said RPF should “continue to think about those among us who can carry on this journey of building our nation,” adding, “While we are building a country, we need insurance to sustain what we have achieved, and that insurance comes from all of you.”

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