Rwanda’s ruling president Paul Kagame has won a third term in office after a landslide victory in the country’s presidential elections, winning 98.7% of the vote.
Turnout in the state is expected to top 90% in Friday’s election, with the victory set to extend Mr Kagame’s 17 years in power.
Mr Kagame, the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front which helped end the 1994 genocide, has won two previous presidential elections in 2003 and 2010. This victory though is his largest margin.
On Saturday morning Mr Kagame told a victory rally
“I am here because I honoured your request. Today is proof that this election was truly about the will of the people. Despite the critics of our democracy, you have proven that Rwandans know what they want.”
“Now the work begins, to continue transforming Rwanda and ensuring a dignified life for every citizen.”
An earlier referendum in the state led to 98% of voters supporting a referendum which can potentially allow Mr Kagame to serve another two five-year terms after his new term ends in 2024.
He has been credited with steering the country towards falling poverty rates, from 65 percent to 40 percent according to World Bank statistics and a growth in annual per capita gross national income from $150 to more than $700.
However the president has also been accused of oppressing free speech and media in the country.
He faced only two challengers, independent Philippe Mpayimana, and Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, both of whom polled less than 1% of the vote.
Mr Habineza, said before the election that the Rwandan government was “starting to understand the opposition can play a role in running the country”.
“We are still treated as if we are enemies … but so far in this election no one in our party has been killed or imprisoned or harassed and that means at least some progress,” he added.