RPF to formally pick Kagame as flag bearer

Monday May 22 2017

President Paul Kagame at a past function. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi) has started the formal process of choosing President Paul Kagame as its candidate in the August 4 election.

The party, which has been in power since 1994, over the weekend started holding primaries at the lowest levels to pick the candidate, with almost no surprises expected.

President Kagame, also the RPF chairman, is expected to win endorsement from the party, having earlier expressed his intention to contest following a December 2015 referendum which allowed him to seek a third term.

In a telephone interview with The EastAfrican, the party Secretary-General, Mr Francois Ngarambe, confirmed that the meeting will decide the candidate it will front.

“The meeting will not endorse, it will elect a candidate the party will front in the elections,” Mr Ngarambe clarified, emphasising on the process to suggest that until the meeting decides, President Kagame was not the confirmed candidate yet.

“If you want to know the process of how it is done, talk to the commissioner in charge of elections in the party,” Mr Ngarambe said.


Will contest

According to the RPF Commissioner in charge of elections, Mr Wellars Gasamagera, the primaries will this weekend proceed to the sector level then to the district before the provincial level.

The candidates who make it at the provincial level will contest against President Kagame in the extraordinary national congress to elect a party flag bearer.

"Two candidates are selected at each level to contest for the party flag at the next level. From the villages, the elections will continue through the different local government structures up to the national level.

"What was clear from randomly selected sites visited was the overwhelming majority votes garnered by RPF Chairman @PaulKagame #RPFPrimaries," the party tweeted

An extraordinary national congress in June will be attended by delegates from all corners of the country.

Pulled out

In 2010, a similar meeting endorsed President Kagame the flag bearer unopposed after other candidates pulled out.

The other candidates who had won at the provincial level, including Mr Justus Kangwage, Mr Charles Muligande and Mr Josee Kagabo, pulled out and officially notified the party that they had endorsed the party chairman.

The 2010 nominations were attended by representatives from other African countries including Mr Jean Jack Nyirimigabo, then of CNDD-FDD- Burundi’s ruling party and Mr Patrick Herman from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC).

So far, Mr Frank Habineza, the head of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), Ms Diane Shima Rwigara, the daughter of deceased businessman Assinapol Rwigara, Mr Gilbert Mwenedata, and Mr Philippe Mpayimana, have expressed their interest to contest for the presidency. The latter three will vie as independents.

Each of the candidates has to raise at least 600 signatures to support their candidature, a minimum of 12 people from each of the 30 districts.

According to Mr Munyaneza, the nomination of presidential candidates will commence June 12-23, with parties or independent presidential candidates submitting their applications.

The provisional list of qualified candidates will be announced June 27, with the final list coming out on July 7. The campaigns will commence on July 14 until August 3.