As Rwandans head to polls today, leaders of various religious denominations have called on the faithful to exercise their civic duty by turning up at their respective polling stations to elect the country’s next president.
During interviews with various clerics, many said they appreciate the achievements made by the country towards ensuring rule of law, especially promoting unity, security, good governance and improving the welfare of the citizens.
They said that people should have in mind such achievements to inform their decision to elect the person who will lead the country in the next seven years.
Sheikh Salim Hitimana, the mufti of Rwanda, encouraged people of the Muslim faith to vote for the leader whom they believe will make the country prosperous, promote peace, and security toward sustainable development.
Islam has more than a million followers among which more than 500,000 are eligible to participate in the presidential elections.
Hitimana said, ahead of the 2017 presidential elections, the religion organised an evening, Thursday, at Mugandamure in Nyanza District from where at least 4,000 people were expected to converge.
“We have organised an evening of thanksgiving and praying for Election Day. Our words during the prayer will be thanking God for what He has done for the country and also pray for a peaceful election,” he said.
The head of the Episcopal Conference of Catholic Bishops of Rwanda, Bishop Philip Rukamba, said the only thing the religion urges Christians is to use their hearts in selecting visionary leaders.
“We have been calling on our followers to participate in the election and vote for someone who will work towards the development of the country and ensure that the country and its citizens continue to live peacefully,” Rukamba said.
The Catholic Church has the largest number of followers in the country, at least 50 per cent of the population, according to Rukamba.
‘There is a price’
John Rucyahana, an emeritus bishop of the Anglican Church, said good choices in the election will be a blessing for the country, warning Christians that there could be a price to pay for either not voting or making a wrong choice.
Rucyahana, who is a former Bishop of Shyira Diocese, underscored the responsibility of every Christian in choosing the leader who will value the citizens and foster peace and love.
“Salvation deals with one’s transformation which also has an impact on the environment and society in general. Our salvation will lead us to vote responsibly so that our country stays in peace,” he said.
Pastor Ezra Mpyisi, an elder in the Seventh Day Adventist Church, called upon Christians to submit themselves to the authorities.
Referencing his advice to the book of Romans chapter 13, Mpyisi said that every authority is from God and that’s why Christians should vote for the right leader.
Rwandans will go to polls to choose between incumbent President Paul Kagame, of RPF-Inkotanyi, Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.