Campaigning has begun in Rwanda for an election expected to return President Paul Kagame to power.

Political tensions are high in the country following a series of arrests and killings that targeted opposition figures and journalists.  

Also, three main opposition parities say authorities did not allow them to register for the August 9 vote.

Victoire Ingabire, leader of the unregistered Unified Democratic Forces party says she is ready to organize a boycott of the elections.

Ingabire has faced legal action since April, after being accused of denying Rwanda's 1994 genocide.

Earlier this month, the vice president of the Rwandan Democratic Green Party, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, was found dead, nearly decapitated.  Also this month, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Umuvugizi, Jean Leonard Rugambage, was shot and killed.

The government denies any involvement in the killings.

Critics have accused President Kagame of stifling opposition and freedom of expression ahead of the poll.  

The French news agency, AFP, reports that Mr. Kagame told reporters in Kigali Tuesday that Rwandans have the freedom to decide who will lead them.  He said he is confident Rwandans will choose to work with the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front but said he cannot take anything for granted.

The presidential election will be the second since the 1994 genocide, in which Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

President Kagame and his party won the last election in 2003.  

The official Rwanda News Agency says the candidates will have 20 days to campaign.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.