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Last Updated: Monday, 25 August, 2003, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Rwanda: From killing to voting
Queue of voters
This is Rwanda's first experience of multi-party elections
Rwandans hope that Monday's presidential election will mark the beginning of a new era in their country's troubled history.

Even sites where thousands of people were killed in the 1994 genocide were used as polling stations.

Juvenal Arawujo, 23, was one of the few to survive when some 2,500 people were attacked at the Kicukiro technical high school in the capital, Kigali on 11 April after being abandoned by Belgian peacekeepers.

Nine years later, he returned to the school to cast his ballot.

"Coming here to elect our president fills me with hope," he told the AFP news agency.

I am going to vote for the man who has brought us peace for these last nine years
Dassan Niyibizi
Even before the massacre of some 800,000 members of the ethnic Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus, Rwandans did not have the chance to support opposition candidates.

"There was no choice in previous elections," said 73-year-old Jean-Baptiste Gakwaya, remembering polls organised by the former Hutu single party regime.

And so there was keen interest among the four million voters in this landmark election.

Empty streets

The BBC's Ishbel Matheson in Kigali says that queues started to form at polling stations as dawn broke.

Shops in Kigali were closed and the streets were largely empty, reports the Associated Press.

Women turned out to vote in their Sunday best, some with colourful parasols, AFP reports.

Supporters of President Paul Kagame
3 candidates
4 million voters
12,000 polling booths
Voting ends 1300GMT

With high levels of illiteracy, voters put their thumb-prints next to the photo of their preferred candidate on the ballot paper.

Incumbent President Paul Kagame is widely expected to win after leading the movement which ended the genocide

"I am going to vote for the man who has brought us peace for these last nine years," said Dassan Niyibizi.

But some voters say he should now start to raise their living standards.

"We now have peace and security," said Emmanuelle Bijogo, a 20-year-old in Kigali. Now "the government needs to create more jobs for people."

The BBC's Andrew Harding reports from Rwanda
"This is a deeply flawed election"

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