President Paul Kagame fired back at his critics Friday, saying railing against Rwanda’s model of democracy “is a waste of time” as its citizens already know what they want.
The leader, who is seeking a third seven-year term, said those who frown upon the country’s unique context of doing things as undemocratic are “meaningless”.
“In democracy, the most important thing is the will of the people, which is informed by what they want, what they feel and how they want things to be. That is the first step.
“It is the will of the majority of the people, but which also accommodates the rights of everyone, including those who do not follow in the same path,” he said.
He was speaking during the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF’s) campaign rally in Nyanza district in Southern Province.
Elections campaigns kicked off Friday ahead of the August 4 vote.
President Kagame’s decision to seek a third term came under intense debate and followed a 2015 referendum that lifted presidential term limits. Critics say the leader rules with an iron fist and human rights group accuse the government of cracking down on those opposed to its policies and actions.
But the Rwandan leader said his country has overcome many battles over the last two decades.
“We must dedicate our time to building ourselves and our country,” he told the huge crowd waving RPF flags.
Pointing out the achievements of his government, Mr Kagame attributed the country’s success to the will of the people.
“We don’t do what we do because we want to be praised by people outside Rwanda. No, we do it for ourselves,” he said.
“Critics are meaningless when you are on the right path. Our role is to continue working to transform our nation. You can choose not to hear the truth but you cannot deny what your eyes show you here today,” he said.
Mr Kagame commended the political parties that chose to rally behind RPF-Inkotanyi, rather than fielding their own candidates, including the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Liberal Party (PL) among others.
He pointed out that that the parties or individuals contesting against RPF, including the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda’s Frank Habineza will soon or later join the ruling party, jokingly adding that RPF is greener than the Green Party.
Philippe Mpayimana is the only independent presidential candidate after the electoral commission barred three others including Diane Shima Rwigara and Gilbert Mwenedata.
On Friday, Ms Rwigara launched the People Salvation Movement (PSM-Itabaza) which she said will be registered a rights group.
The Green Party held its rally in the Southwestern region, while Philippe Mpayimana was in Eastern Rwanda.
Elections are slated for August 4. Rwandans in the diaspora will vote a day earlier.