Prosper Higiro, the Liberal Party candidate in Rwanda’s 2010 Presidential election, held a rally on a scrap of land in Muhanga, central Rwanda yesterday. The Higiro rally was always going to be smaller than Kagame’s 100,000+ Gicumbi love-in the day earlier. However, myself and the car full of foreign hacks I was ferrying, weren’t quite prepared for what greeted us as we pulled up just ten minutes before the scheduled kick off. It was… well… underwhelming.
As you can see in the picture above, the organisers had quite literally spared no expense. Possibly because they have very little in the way of campaign funds. Things almost livened up an hour later with the arrival of a sound system on the back of a pick-up truck. But, as one foreign hack observed soon after our arrival, this was something of a “democratic still birth”.
With no sign of any movement half an hour after the scheduled start, those present were treated to a bit of Rwandan reggae coming out of the Liberal Party disco mobile. I tried to amuse myself by playing with the tiltshift generator app on my phone, see the result below
And here’s a sample of the music
It was surprisingly difficult to find anyone who would say they planned to vote for Higiro on August 9, even among the 50 or so “green shirts” present. Indeed, a number said Kagame was their man. Others wouldn’t commit to anyone at all.
When the yellow-capped Higiro arrived, from an earlier rally in Nyamagabe and two hours or more late, the green shirts entered chanting, flag waving mode. The introductory speeches took about an hour and finally, at around 5pm, Higiro took to the podium – once it had been moved three times so he wasn’t staring directly into the sun.
Approximately 50 supporters and some 50 children stood in line alongside the podium as he spoke. Another 150-200 people stood on the embankment overlooking the rally. The New Times has a summary of soundbites,
“There is hope for victory and residents have been very good and welcoming. The party has however met some difficulties due to internal structures and minimal resources, but we (PL) are still hopeful of winning these polls,” Higiro said.
“The numbers of residents attending the rallies don’t matter. The most important issue is the outcome of the final vote on the ballot papers. We are ready for this,” he remarked. link