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Rwanda votes in polls

KIGALI (AFP): Rwandans voted in parliamentary elections Monday that are expected to shore up the power of President Paul Kagame’s ruling party a year after he was re-elected with 98 percent of the vote.

The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), in power for 24 years, its allied parties and one critical opposition party are vying for 53 of the 80 seats in parliament. The remaining 27 seats are reserved for women, youth and the disabled and they are elected by special councils and national committees. “Our party is gaining momentum across the country despite numerous hurdles.

We are hopeful that we will win at least ten seats in parliament,” said Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party, the only permitted critical opposition party, casting his vote in Kigali. Habineza secured only 0.45 percent of the vote in last year’s presidential election. There were strict restrictions on opposition parties who were given only three weeks to campaign. Currently all 53 seats up for grabs are held by the RPF and parties that are allied with it or back government policies. Long queues of voters waited to cast their ballots. Polls opened at 0500 GMT and will close at 1500 GMT. Provisional results are expected late Monday.

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