Rwanda: Philippe Mpayimana Announces Presidential Candidacy Again

Philippe Mpayimana

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, Philippe Mpayimana, who previously ran for President of Rwanda in 2017 but was not successful, submitted his candidacy to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to contest in the upcoming elections scheduled for July 2024.

Mpayimana, accompanied by a group of four supporters, was received by Oda Gasinzigwa, the President of the National Electoral Commission.

Currently, Mpayimana is employed by the government in the Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement, where he serves as an expert in citizen participation. He assumed this position in November 2021.

In the last election, Mpayimana ran as an independent candidate and received 0.73% of the vote. Following his defeat, he also attempted to join the Parliament in 2018 but was unsuccessful.

He has submitted all the necessary documents required for presidential candidacy and expressed confidence that he will again be listed as an eligible candidate by the National Electoral Commission.

Speaking to the media, Mpayimana cited the plight of Rwandans who fled the country in 1994 and are living abroad with no means to reconnect with their homeland as one of the reasons for his decision to run for president.

“They still hold onto the mindset of that time, and we must not abandon them. We need new programs to help them integrate and engage with their country,” he said.

Mpayimana acknowledged that gathering the required signatures to support his candidacy involved extensive travel across the country, but he successfully accomplished this task.

Despite his defeat in 2017, Mpayimana now feels sufficiently confident, attributing his confidence to the belief that his goals are not personal.

Political analysts in Rwanda suggest that Mpayimana is not a strong candidate capable of genuinely challenging President Kagame in the elections. Instead, they argue that he is allowed to run to demonstrate the semblance of a transparent electoral process in Rwanda, while stronger opposition figures like Victoire Ingabire remain barred as the ruling RPF party does not feel confident it can defeat them.

Some people humorously refer to candidates like Mpayimana as “Kagame’s groomsmen,” indicating their role as merely ceremonial contenders.