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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Profiles: Kagame's opponents
By Robert Walker
BBC, Kigali

Three opposition candidates have dared to challenge President Paul Kagame in Rwanda's first presidential polls since the 1994 genocide.

Faustin Twagiramungu

President Kagame's main rival for the Rwanda's presidency is independent candidate Faustin Twagiramungu.

Faustin Twagiramungu
Mr Twagiramungu stresses the importance of national unity
Born in 1945 in the western province of Cyangugu, Mr Twagiramungu went on to attend university in Canada.

He was an advocate of political change under President Juvenal Habyarimana regime - calling for the freeing of political parties in 1990.

When this occurred the following year, Mr Twagiramungu was among those who revived the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), the party of Rwanda's first president, Gregoire Kayibanda.

Escaped death

Mr Twagiramungu became the leader of MDR party in 1992, strongly opposing the Habyarimana regime and the Hutu extremists within his own MDR party.

He narrowly escaped death himself when the genocide was unleashed in April 1994.

Mr Twagiramungu became prime minister of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) led transitional government in July 1994.

He resigned the following year, after differences with Mr Kagame's RPF, and spent eight years in exile in Belgium, before his return to Rwanda in June this year.

Mending fences

Like Mr Kagame, Mr Twagiramungu is stressing the importance of national unity.

But he is also calling for new directions in foreign policy, including mending of fences with neighbouring Uganda and DR Congo, and has made populist calls for fairer taxes and reducing unemployment.

He is critical of what he says is RPF repression.

During his campaign, Mr Twagiramungu has called for the release of jailed former Rwandan president, Pasteur Bizimungu, and for Rwanda's king to be allowed to return from exile.

He has also demanded the government to explain the fate of certain individuals who have disappeared. Rwanda's main opposition presidential candidate, keen of the king's return and wants mend fences with DR Congo and Uganda.

Alivera Mukabaramba

[dropped out of race 24 August 2003] Born in the central Rwanda in 1960, Dr Alivera Mukabaramba trained as a doctor in Russia.

She practised medicine in Rwanda before entering politics.

Dr Mukabaramba, the first woman presidential candidate in Rwandan history, is standing on the ticket of the newly formed Party for Progress and Concord (PPC).

She was a member of the Democratic Republican Movement (MDR) before moves to ban that party earlier this year.

Low profile

Dr Mukabaramba then jumped ship with several MDR colleagues to launch the PPC, in time for the presidential elections.

She had a low political profile before her presidential bid and even during the campaign has left most of the talking to PPC campaign chairman, Dr Christian Marara.

Many see Dr Marara, head of Rwanda's post office, as the real driving force behind the party.

The PPC has set out a platform of policies calculated to have voter appeal.

Free universal education, lower taxes, and greater gender equity - among them. But the party has received little public support in its campaign meetings.

Jean Nepomuscene Nayinzira

Independent candidate, Jean Nepomuscene Nayinzira, is the veteran among the presidential hopefuls.

Jean Nepomuscene Nayinzira
Mr Nayinzira promotes security and beliefs in God
Born in 1943 in Gisenyi Province, Mr Nayanzira, was a member of assassinated former Rwandan president, Juvenal Habyarimana's MRNDD (Republican National Movement for Democracy and Development) party.

He founded the Christian Democrat Party (PDC) when multipartyism was introduced in 1991.

Mr Nyanzira became a minister in the post genocide transitional government, and later a member of parliament, where he resigned from parliament following an investigation into alleged 'unworthy' behaviour, charges he strongly denied.

Believer

After apparently retiring, he has bounced back to fight for the presidency on a platform which includes promoting unity, security and belief in God.

But while the two main candidates, Faustin Twagiramungu and incumbent president Paul Kagame have criss-crossed the country, Mr Nayanzira has taken a low profile in campaigning, eschewing the public rallies of his opponents.




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