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Africa
Rwanda presidential campaign ends
Incumbent president favourite to win Monday's vote as opposition claims intimidation.
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2010 17:09 GMT
Kagame insists Rwandans are free to elect the president of their choice [EPA]

Canditates for Rwanda's presidential election have finished campaigning for votes ahead of polls on Monday.

Paul Kagame, the incumbent president, is predicted to easily win the poll in the absence of any real opposition.

The run-up to the election has been marred by allegations of intimidation levelled against the ruling party. Opposition groups say Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) has killed independent journalists and arrested opponents.

Several senior army officers have been arrested in recent months and one general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, narrowly survived an assassination attempt in exile in South Africa.

An opposition journalist who claimed to have uncovered the regime's responsibility in the attempted murder was shot dead days later.

Andrew Simmons, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital Kigali, said that little solid opposition to Kagame exists.

"There were three other contenders. Two of those failed to get official documents through and failed to get accepted into the race," Simmons said. 

"The other's party has effectively disintegrated. So there is no real opposition to Kagame."

'Dark shadow'

Simmons added that the accusations of repression in the lead up to the election has caused a lot of concern.

"The leader of one of these opposition parties is now investigating the murder of his deputy who was decapitated.

"The other opposition leader is virtually under house arrest, under continual 24 hours surveillance, not allowed out of Kigali.

"So that backdrop puts something of a dark shadow over this election, although the government is insistent that it has not repressed anybody, that these are free and democratic elections."

But Kagame, 52, has insisted that the country is free to choose its president.

Challenging Kagame are Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, the deputy speaker running for the Social Democratic Party, Prosper Higiro of the Liberal Party, and Alvera Mukabaramba from the Party of Progress and Concord.

'Political satellites'

Those three movements supported Kagame during the 2003 presidential election and are described by other parties as the RPF's "political satellites" - token opposition used to maintain a facade of pluralism.

Kagame won his first presidential term in 2003 and is credited with rebuilding the country following a 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were killed. Kagame led minority Tutsi forces against majority Hutus during the conflict.

During Kagame's presidency Rwanda's GDP has doubled and he has focused on economic co-operation with other nations.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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