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Rwanda: How Candidates Hit the Campaign Trail

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Braving the sweltering hot weather, presidential and parliamentary candidates officially hit the campaign trail on Saturday, June 22, to woo voters ahead of the general elections set for July 14-15.

Various parts of the country were visited by both presidential and parliamentary hopefuls, making different promises to the voters. Here are some of the things that stood out as the campaigners hit the trail.

RPF supporters rose as early as 1am to throng rally venues

In Musanze and Rubavu districts where incumbent President Paul Kagame held his first rallies on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, supporters woke up as early as 1am to throng the venues that turned out to be packed by tens of thousands of people by the time he arrived in mid-morning.

Thousands of miles away, in Europe, RPF-Inkotanyi supporters in Paris, France, had kicked off the campaigns at Pont Neuf, the oldest standing bridge across the river Seine in Paris, hours before – in Rwanda – Kagame, started canvassing for votes in Musanze District. The party’s campaign rally at Pont Neuf is the first of many activities planned in France during the campaign period.

For the first rally in Musanze, Kagame, clad in a white RPF polo shirt and black trousers, flanked by RPF Secretary General Wellars Gasamagera, walked into a fully parked venue at University of Rwanda Busogo campus, where he talked to an ecstatic crowd.

In the speech he made, he urged Rwandans to continue committing to policies that seek development and leave no one behind.

He noted that Rwandans experienced dark moments since the colonial times and lived in a way that was not worthy until 30 years ago.

On the second day of his campaign, Kagame headed to Rubavu District where, once again, he was greeted cheerfully by mammoth crowds.

“On July 15, we will be choosing unity, democracy, and development but the most important thing that aligns with that is actions that implement what we aspire for. Sitting around and only talking about it, one cannot achieve anything,” he said to his audience.

The RPF-led coalition of eight parties will hold a three-week campaign trail across 19 venues in the country to canvas for votes in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections set for July 14-15.

Mpayimana draws a handful of fans, promises changes in education system

Independent presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana kicked off his campaign in Kirehe on June 22 before he headed to Ngoma the following day.

Speaking to small crowds, he pledged to improve education if elected. He promised to ensure that every student has access to study loans for instance.

He also expressed concerns about the quantity of food served in secondary schools, saying it doesn’t contain nutrients needed by the students.

“Most of the future generation is still in school, but the quantity of food they receive does not match their needs for growth and development. If you vote for me, I will make sure food consumption in schools is properly balanced to meet the nutritional needs of the students,” he said.

Mpayimana said his manifesto puts emphasis on various sectors, such as health, infrastructure, national security, justice, labour, social affairs, youth, technology, arts, sports, and national unity and culture.

“My manifesto is covered in 50 articles, summarized in 15 categories, developed based on consultative interactions we held with the citizenry. It also contains ideas developed over time, which reflect both existing policies and new initiatives,” he said.

Habineza presents a manifesto “researched for two years.”

Lawmaker Frank Habineza got his campaign underway in Jabana sector of Gasabo district on Saturday before he headed to Kamonyi the following day.

Clad in the green and white colours of his party and flanked by his party officials, he launched his campaign with a manifesto aimed at enhancing the well-being of Rwandan citizens and fostering national development.

Speaking to the attendees, he said the manifesto was developed in two years of thorough research of the country’s challenges.

He announced a plan to eliminate the land tax, combat food insecurity, and establish a fund to compensate people acquitted after spending more than 30 days in jail.

Parties front parliamentary candidates

Parties like the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and PS Imberakuri also hit the campaign trail to reach out to people, asking them to vote for their parliamentary candidates.

On June 22, PSD launched its electoral campaign in Nyamata Sector, Bugesera District, in a bid to not only garner votes for parliamentary candidates but also endorse Kagame’s re-election.

The PSD campaign trail is expected to end on July 13, at a site commonly known as Tapis Rouge in Nyamirambo, in Kigali.

Among the promises they made, officials of the party said they will work towards lowering value-added tax (VAT) to 14 per cent from the current 18 per cent; a move the party stated would increase residents’ purchasing power, lower the cost of living, and stimulate economic growth.

Senator Juvenal Nkusi, one of the founding members of PSD, said that “as PSD, we agree that taxes are necessary to the country, but we want that value-added tax be reduced to 14 per cent.”

By New Times.

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