President Paul Kagame has said that his margin of victory in the 2017 presidential polls by over 98 per cent can be explained as part of the unique characteristics about Rwanda as well as the will of the citizens.
The president was speaking last evening at a dinner hosted in celebration of Umubano Project 10 year’s anniversary.
Umubano Project is a social action project that over the past decade had interventions in the country in the areas of health, education, justice and private sector development among others.
The initiative which is the UK’s Conservative Party social action, was founded in 2007 by former British Prime Minister David Cameron and former British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.
President Kagame said that following the recent elections, there have been questions mostly from outside the country on how a candidate can win presidential election by almost 100 per cent.
This, he said, can be answered by understanding the uniqueness of the country as well as the citizens’ voice about their governance.
“When the question becomes, in Rwanda how do you have somebody winning with almost 100 per cent? It is because Rwanda is different in that way.
“We are not special but we are different. It happens in a way that respects everyone’s views and there are contexts that we have had to deal with that have not been our creation, they have happened and we have had to deal with them the best way we could,” Kagame said.
He added that beyond the perceptions of outsiders, what matters most is that the wishes and desires of Rwandans are reflected in the outcome of the polls.
The President noted that it shows Rwandans are happy with the ongoing nation building efforts and are also aware of challenges ahead but committed to work through them.
“The most important thing is that Rwandans said very loudly to everyone and to themselves that they are happy with what we are doing and what they are getting and are aware of challenges to be dealt with but we are united in that effort to get a better future,” he said.
He said that the criticism often coming from outside the country is not a problem in the country’s quest and efforts towards social economic development.
“Yes, there has been criticism coming our way, it is not a big problem. We listen, we factor in what we have to do and we learn lessons. But we can tell everyone that we are single minded about our well being given where we have come from and where we want to be and we will always want to do our best for ourselves and without meaning offence to anyone. We will take all the offence that can come our way,” he said.
Kagame extended his gratitude to the volunteers of Project Umubano for their support to Rwanda’s development process in many ways.
He said that the United Kingdom has been one of the main supporters of Rwanda’s development across multiple sectors which has consequently seen the two countries form a partnership bond.
“We’ have received support from many countries but our partnership with the United Kingdom has been very significant,” Kagame said.
He said that Rwanda greatly values the partnership with Project Umubano and the British government adding that they can always count on Rwanda as a friend.
A message by British Prime Minister Theresa May was read out by Sir Desmond Swayne, a British parliamentarian.
In her message, the Premier who is also the head of the Conservative Party, congratulated Kagame on his re-election.
“I am proud of what the United Kingdom and Rwanda have achieved together as partners and as friends thanks to the cooperation and vision of President Kagame who I congratulate on his re-election. Today, Rwandans have the best life chances they have ever had,” the message read in part.
She noted that Rwanda has been an active player in international peacekeeping by sending troops across the world to ensure that atrocities such as genocide never happen again.
The Prime Minister said that trade and investment between Rwanda and the UK has been growing steadily and is expected to increase even further following the introduction of direct flights between the two countries.
Former British International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said that though the project was coming to an end, the partnership and the friendship between Rwanda and the UK would thrive over the coming years.
He said that in the process of volunteering in various sectors, they had come to understand Rwanda and its people and also learn lessons some of which they were applying back home.