Here's What You Need to Know About Rwanda's Presidential Election Tomorrow

Will Paul Kagame serve a third term in office? Most likely.

The 2017 Rwandan presidential election takes place tomorrow, August 4, and many are calling it a shoe-in for the incumbent president, Paul Kagame, who's held office since 2003.

Kagame's main opponent is Frank Habienza the founder and chairman of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, who's running on a platform of improved social services for Rwanda's rural communities.

Last week, the election's only female candidate Diane Shima Rwigarawas disqualified from the race after fake nude photos of her appeared online. It's believed that this was done by members of the Kagame-led ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

"President Paul Kagame will eventually be crowned as an undisputed king of Rwanda and will continue to rule the country in a climate of fear and lack of fundamental freedoms," she wrote in an essay published in the Washington Post.

"By extending his 23 years in power, Kagame is denying Rwandans an opportunity to experience the first-ever peaceful transition of power in their country. The millions of Rwandans who will go to the polls will not be exercising their democratic rights, but rather, will be participating in a forced and staged ceremony that will be more like a coronation exercise than a democratic election.

Both her and Habienza, as well as many on the international stage have accused Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of using covert methods to intimidate opponents and force them to drop out of the race.

Kagame's bid for a third term in office was approved in a 2015 referendum, which also cut presidential terms from seven years to five—though the latter will not be put into effect until 2024. Though Kagame has popular support in the country, many have expressed discontent with what is widely considered a hamper on democracy on his part.

Kagame has made public attempts to assuage these fears over the past years, and his affinity for social media and technology has often led to a .

"You requested me to lead the country again after 2017," he said in a 2016 speech announcing his third run for presidency. "Given the importance and consideration you attach to this, I can only accept. But I don't think that what we need is an eternal leader."

Supporters of Kagame and the RPF showed up in large numbers for a presidential rally on Tuesday.

Photo by NurPhoto via Getty Images.

A Year After #EndSARS, Nigerian Youth Maintain That Nothing Has Changed

Despite the disbandment of the SARS units, young Nigerians are still being treated as criminals. We talk to several of them about their experiences since the #EndSARS protests.

On September 12th, Tobe, a 22-year-old student at the University of Nigeria's Enugu Campus was on his way to Shoprite to hang out with his friends when the tricycle he had boarded was stopped by policemen. At first, Tobe thought they were about to check the driver's documents, but he was wrong. "An officer told me to come down, he started searching me like I was a criminal and told me to pull down my trousers, I was so scared that my mind was racing in different ways, I wasn't wearing anything flashy nor did I have an iPhone or dreads — things they would use to describe me as a yahoo boy," he says.

They couldn't find anything on him and when he tried to defend himself, claiming he had rights, one of the police officers slapped him. "I fell to the ground sobbing but they dragged me by the waist and took me to their van where they collected everything including my phone and the 8,000 Naira I was with."

Luckily for Tobe, they let him go free after 2 hours. "They set me free because they caught another pack of boys who were in a Venza car, but they didn't give me my money completely, they gave me 2,000 Naira for my transport," he says.

It's no news that thousands of Nigerian youth have witnessed incidents like Tobe's — many more worse than his. It's this helpless and seemingly unsolvable situation which prompted the #EndSARS protests. Sparked after a viral video of a man who was shot just because he was driving an SUV and was mistaken as a yahoo boy, the #EndSARS protests saw millions of young Nigerians across several states of the country come out of their homes and march against a system has killed unfathomable numbers of people for invalid or plain stupid reasons. The protests started on October 6th, 2020 and came to a seize after a tragedy struck on October 20th of the same year.

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