Brief on the Rwandan Presidential Elections

Pictographic glance at the Rwanda Presidential Elections

Picture credit: Rwanda National Electoral Commission. 


The Rwanda National Electoral Commission, in collaboration with State organs and other partners, organized and ran successful Presidential elections on August 3rd and 4th, 2017. The Independent observers have qualified the electoral process to have met regional and international democratic principles; transparent, peaceful, free, and fair. This brief gives a summary of the process and the results.



Rwanda presidential elections took place on August 3rd for Rwandans leaving abroad (Diaspora), and August 04th, 2017 in Rwanda. Preceding these dates was elaboration and adoption of the electoral legal framework; a lengthy time of civic education; a transparent and technology supported registration/updating of the voters’ lists, in and outside the country; securing and timely dispatching of voting materials; reception of candidates’ applications; assessment of candidatures and publishing of the final list in accordance to the provisions of the laws regulating elections in Rwanda.


After deliberation, pursuant to the requirements of the constitution of Rwanda of 2003, as amended in 2015 and the other bodies of law regulating elections in Rwanda, the National Electoral Commission (NEC), found that 3 candidates of the 6 that had applied fulfilled the requirements. The approved candidates were; H.E. Paul Kagame, of the Rwanda Patriotic Front; who was also fielded as candidate by other 8 major political organizations; Dr. Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party, and Mr. Phillippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.


The 3 candidates were able to hold/host public campaigns and expressed their political agenda directly to the population; according to the agreed schedules. If for whatever reason a campaign had to change their schedule, NEC and the local government entities allowed to reschedule to another convenient time and location. We appreciate all the 3 campaigns for keeping their message to reinforce the aspirations of Rwandans and public policy on unity and reconciliation, peace and security. The Rwanda National Police reported the campaigns were held in a peaceful environment that was incident free.



NEC reported that the voter turnout was 98.15% of the 6,897,076 who had registered to vote. 6,769,514 cast their votes (54% women, 46% men). In the diaspora, of 44,362 who had registered to vote, 39,719 cast their votes; 89.53%.

H.E. Paul Kagame was elected as President of Rwanda for the next 7 years; with 98.79% of all votes cast. Mr. Phillipe Mpayimana received 0.73% votes and Dr. Frank Habineza received 0.48%.  In the Diaspora, President Kagame received 37,951 votes; 95.58%, of the votes cast, Dr. Habineza received 1,101 votes; 2.77% and Mpayimana received 655 votes; 1.65%. In the United States alone, H.E. Paul Kagame received 840 votes; 99.6% and Dr. Frank Habineza received 3 votes; 0.4%, while Mr, Phillipe Mpayimana received 0 votes.

In their acceptance speeches, candidates accepted the results and pledged to continue advancing their agenda through normal public discourse. In his victory speech President Kagame commended the candidates who lost and promised to continue working with them and their supporters to advance the interest of Rwanda(ns).

President Kagame was sworn-in for a 7-year term on Friday, August 18th, 2017, in the presence of over 20 Heads of States and Governments, the Diplomatic Corps, Friends of Rwanda and a packed 30,000-sitter stadium.


Independent Electoral Observer Missions

1,726 Electoral Observers observed the 2017 Rwanda Presidential election. Amongst them were 335 foreign observers and 1,391 Rwanda. Most of the foreign observers came from the African Union (AU), the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the International Conference of the Great Lakes (ICGLR) and the Joint Elections Observation Mission by the African Diaspora in Europe and the African Civil Society.

The Independent Presidential elections observers hailed Rwanda’s elections as transparent, peaceful, free and fair. The Heads of Mission of the three Election Observer Missions (EOMs); EAC, COMESA, and ICGLR said, “… the election was free and fair and that it was held in a peace and secure atmosphere…”.

They noted that the media, both public and private, played a crucial role in the campaigns by according balanced and equitable coverage to all the presidential candidates during campaigns in addition to highlighting the key policy issues that were at the heart of the campaigns. The electoral Observer Missions noted “the state-owned Rwanda Broadcasting Agency radio and television stations gave equal airtime to the three presidential candidates to market themselves to the electorate…”

Electoral Observers commended the National Electoral Commission for its creativity to ensure elections were far more less expensive. They also provided recommendations to improve the electoral process in Rwanda in the next circle. The Rwanda National Electoral Commission welcomed feedback from Electoral Observer Missions and promised to take in consideration their recommendation, as it fits, in the next electoral calendars.


The successful and peaceful presidential elections again proved that the post-genocide reconstruction, nation-building and most especially the unity and reconciliation efforts, employed by Rwandans for the passed 23 years, have paid off. Rwanda’s democratic culture has matured.

Without doubt, this electoral process proved, more than ever, that Rwandans know what they want. Rwandans, in their votes, approved of the direction the country has taken under the leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame.