Rwandans in the country will today head to the polls to elect the next head of state, a vote in which some 6.8 million citizens are expected to participate.
Some 2,340 polling stations have been set up across the country and they are expected to open at 7am and close at 3p.m to pave way for the tallying process.
To avoid long queues and make the voting process easier, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has set up 16,691 polling rooms across the country.
The Executive Secretary of NEC, Charles Munyaneza, told The New Times on the eve of the poll that the commission expects the election to be seamless given that preparations had been conducted smoothly.
He said preliminary results from the polls will be released before midnight.
“We are ready to conduct the election. Everything is in place and all the electoral materials are already at polling stations. The plan is to release preliminary results between 10pm and 11p.m tomorrow (today),” he said.
Three presidential candidates are contesting the election; incumbent President Paul Kagame, of the RPF-Inkotanyi, faces Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda; and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.
The three candidates conducted a 19-day nationwide campaign that they concluded on Wednesday.
Yesterday, Rwandans in the Diaspora cast their vote at 98 polling stations in different countries and 44,362 Diasporans were expected to vote.
NEC officials said about 2000 observers will be closely following the election inside the country. The poll is expected to cost government Rwf6.2 billion.
Some 5.1 million people participated in the 2010 presidential poll, with an additional 1.7 million new voters expected to participate this time round.
Citizens will have to choose between Kagame who has promised to continue on the path of national transformation across the various sectors; Habineza, who has said he would introduce new policies that include tax cuts and land reforms; and Mpayimana, who pledged to promote democracy, trade and agriculture, and empower the youth.
Kagame will cast his vote from his home area, at APE-Rugunga polling station, in Kigali’s Nyarugenge District, while Mpayimana will vote from Camp Kigali Primary School, also in Nyarugenge.
Habineza will vote from Kimironko II Primary School polling station in Kigali’s Gasabo District.