(Recasts, adds diplomat comment)
By Themistocle Hakizimana and Hereward Holland
KIGALI, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Rwandan President Paul Kagame
danced his way towards a second seven-year term on Tuesday after
preliminary results gave the bush war veteran 93 percent of the
vote in more than a third of country's districts.
Kagame urged supporters to await the final tally, but said
he did not expect the outcome to change and the apparent margin
of his win came as little surprise.
In the last election in 2003, Kagame notched up 95 percent
of the vote. A repeat performance was predicted, partly because
of the economic growth and stability he has delivered but also
because of a crackdown on rivals and critics.
"It's really a coronation of Mr Kagame. I don't think we'd
call it a genuine election," said Muzong Kodi, an Africa analyst
at the Chatham House think-tank.
"It's not the manner in which the polling has been
organised. The election results are decided months in advance of
the polling by the way the opposition was treated, by the way
dissent was clamped down on," he said.
The preliminary results from the National Electoral
Commission, broadcast on a screen at an overnight victory rally
in a Kigali stadium, showed that in 11 out of 30 districts
Kagame had garnered 1,610,422 out of 1,734,671 votes cast.
Supporters of Kagame, who has been in control since his
rebel army swept to power and ended the genocide of 800,000
ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994, hailed their hero as
fireworks crowned the victory celebration at the stadium.
Surrounded by his family, Kagame danced rigidly in front of
a sea of euphoric, flag-waving supporters gathered at the
Amahoro Stadium, where thousands of ethnic Tutsis sought refuge
during the genocide.
"That 93 percent was okay but not very good. I wanted 97 or
98 percent," said Gady Mutanganganati, a 25-year-old Internet
technician. "For the next seven years I want him to build more
roads and hospitals and give people free education to the end of
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION?
Kagame has been president of Rwanda since 2000 and cruised
to victory at the ballot box in 2003 -- the first elections
since the 1994 genocide.
Despite being poor in resources, Rwanda is a rising star in
Africa for donors and investors and Kagame has been feted as a
visionary leader and African icon.
While most of Rwanda's neighbours and donors are expected to
be satisfied with a Kagame victory, some analysts said the most
dominant figure in post-genocide Rwanda would likely have to
repair his tainted image.
They said Rwanda could expect far more foreign direct
investment if it improved its democratic accountability rather
than becoming more autocratic.
"You have to wonder about the broader socio-political
situation that produces a vote like this," said a Western
diplomat, commenting on the seemingly certain landslide.
Critics will point to events over the last few months.
Registration troubles prevented three outspoken parties from
fielding candidates. Two party chiefs were arrested on charges
including stirring ethnic hatred and genocide ideology.
Other opponents say they have been threatened and
intimidated. Two newspapers were suspended in April, a critical
journalist was shot in the head in June and a senior member of
the Democratic Green Party was found nearly beheaded in July.
Voting was peaceful, with some stations registering 100
percent turnout well before polls were due to close, National
Electoral Commission Chairman Chrisilogue Karangwa told Reuters.
In one incident, however, voters were ushered into polling
stations hours before voting opened and given instructions.
"The first picture on the ballot paper was Kagame. We were
told to take their thumbs and show them where to vote. I know
personally because I oversaw 83 people," said one man,
identifying himself as a village chief and ruling party member.
A second man in the same village in Rwanda's Eastern
province told Reuters he had ordered sleeping residents to vote
in the early hours of Monday morning: "Wake up, go to vote
early, the one you have to vote for, you know him."
"I think the international community will be happy with the
way it went. His next term in office is going to be watched
closely to make sure that Rwanda is moving towards genuine
democracy," said Chatham House's Kodi.
(Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by David Clarke)