Voter turn out was at 90 per cent in yesterday’s sector councilors elections whose results are expected to be announced today.
Out of 2,068 candidates, only 853 district councilors were elected yesterday—in a secret ballot across the 2,312 polling centres constituting 16,126 polling stations countrywide.
The exercise which began at 7am in many polling stations throughout the country ended at 3pm,, according to Charles Munyaneza, the executive secretary of the National Electoral Commission.
Speaking to The New Times last evening, Munyaneza, said the elections went on smoothly.
He noted that the turnout was slightly lower compared to referendum elections held last year.
“Our reports show that voter turnout was at 90 per cent although the percentage is relatively lower than expected, the exercise was smooth,” he said.
“The polling timeline was observed nationwide and results were supposed to be communicated shortly after the tallying, however, we will communicate the entire results of what happened at the national level tomorrow (today),” he added.
“Apart from a few areas where voting begun about 30 minutes late, the entire exercise began on time. The delays, in most areas were caused by rains,” Munyaneza said.
He said by midday, voters’ turn up had exceeded 60 per cent.
Some of the elected councilors will make the district executive council and mayors, who will spearhead the local government agenda for the next five years.
Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi—accompanied by his wife—voted at Petit Stade Polling centre 25 minutes to 11am.
Speaking to journalists shortly after voting, he noted that Rwanda needs local leaders who will work with the central government to plan and push for inclusive development up to the grassroots level.
“Voting councilors is very important and everyone’s responsibility, especially if we need grassroots leaders who will lead us to the kind of development we anticipate,” Murekezi said, adding that grassroots leaders are the catalysts of development.
“We expect a lot from these leaders; to keep interacting with citizens, think fast, do their job well and avoid manipulating performance figures [to score marks]. We basically, ask them to eagerly look into vision 2020, which is nearing an end, with eyes on vision 2050,” said Murekezi.
Meanwhile, observers said the elections were conducted properly, and no incidents had been reported throughout the country, by press time.
Edourd Munyamaliza, the spokesperson of Rwanda civil society platform told The New Times that, the platform deployed 513 observers across the country, but reported no uncertain incidents during yesterday’s polls.
“The elections were generally well organised. The ballot papers arrived at the polling centres on time, apart from a few areas where they were unavoidable delays because of the weather,” said Munyamaliza.
About 2,000 observers, including those from diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda and the civil society had been accredited to monitor the Monday exercise.
Munyamaliza also noted that voter turn up in rural areas was higher than the urban centres, blaming it on seemingly busy schedule of urban dwellers.
“The civic education was not enough in the urban centres, as compared to rural areas. The attendance of campaign rallies in the urban centres was very low, but we are satisfied with the situation in the rural areas; you would find many people attending campaign rallies which is good,” said Munyamaliza.
Several citizens who talked to The New Times hailed regular election of their leaders as good for country’s development.
Jean Claude Hategekimana, a second year student of pharmacy at the University of Rwanda (UR) Huye campus, observed that capable leaders are the foundation of development.
Call for more civic education
Meanwhile, at various polling stations visited in Kigali, several voters called for more civic education about local government elections.
At Nonko Primary School, Ecole Primaire de Kicukiro, GS Kimironko among others, voters said there were no serious campaigns by candidates.
Police Spokesperson, Commissioner of Police (AC) Celestin Twahira, told The New Times that no security incidents were reported during the polls.
He said at least two police constables and a supervisor were deployed to all the polling centres across the country.
“We had security officers escort election materials from NEC’s head office to final destinations and they will escort them back, when the exercise is over. The police have been involved in the local government elections since the beginning,” said Twahirwa.
Reported by Athan Tashobya, Rodrigue Rwirahira, Dean Karemera and Emmanuel Ntirenganya