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'I will not join any coalition,' says Rwanda's only woman candidate

media President Paul Kagame in the Rwandan capital Kigali on 24 June 2010 REUTERS/James Akena

Presidential candidates, including the clear favourite incumbent Paul Kagame, are wrapping up their campaigning ahead of elections in Rwanda on Monday. RFI’s Daniel Singleton met the only female candidate vying for the country’s top job.

Alvera Mukabaramba famously pulled out of the 2003 presidential elections at the last minute and threw her support behind Paul Kagame. The 50-year-old senator who chairs the Party for Progress and Concord also sits on the Political Commission and Good Governance in Parliament.

RFI's Daniel Singleton met her in Kigali. He asked her first whether she thought she had recovered her credibility.

Alvera Mukabaramba: I think that supporting another candidate during campaigning, joining a coalition with them does amount to the loss of credibility. There are reasons why a political party decides to join a coalition during elections. We had campaigned till the end, and the party decided to support Paul Kagame because his manifesto and ours were very similar and we threw in our lot behind him to stop certain candidates who campaigned on ethnic and divisionist issues. That's why we supported Paul Kagame and the RPF. We did not lose our credibility. But this time, I will stay till the end and will not join any coalition.

Daniel Singleton: Why are you standing in the election when there are so few differences between your movement's manifesto and that of the ruling RPF party.

AM: In a democracy there are different parties campaigning, there are different manifestoes. it's up to the people to choose. So you cannot say nothing is at stake. It's the voters who will decide.

DS: what do you bring as a woman in this campaign?

AM: I cannot stand as the woman candidate. I am the candidate of a political party. And women, just like men, will choose other candidates. I am not here so that I get the female vote, but to prove that there is equality between men and women in Rwanda. I am not the woman candidate standing for women.

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