Presidential election in Eastern Province, like elsewhere in the country, was marked by high turnout, with majority choosing to get done with the business early.
By midday, there was little activity at polling stations as most people had voted and returned home.
Noteworthy too, was the high level of innovation at the different polling sites as organisers sort of competed for ‘best decorated site.’
Young and old, residents of the province all expressed the zeal to vote.
Eastern Province governor Judith Kazayire, who voted in Rwamagana town, said there had been adequate preparations and the Election Day was eagerly awaited for by the people.
“Everyone was yearning to elect their rightful leader. The big turnout is testimony of political maturity in our country. It is a good sign of democracy and good governance,” she said.
Radjab Mbonyumuvunyi, the mayor of Rwamagana District, said the election also shows that people have embraced the role of citizen participation.
“The elections were characterised by celebration and joy at the different polling stations. People come to vote and resume their businesses. Everyone wanted to be the first to vote,” he said.
Saverine Mujawayezu, the head of one of the polling stations in Rwamagana, said due to good preparations, there were minimal inconveniences such as people who lost or forgot their voter cards, among others, to deal with.
What voters say
“One can’t miss the opportunity to choose the future of their nation,” said Joseph Karwanyi, 68.
“I have come to elect a president that we as Rwandans need for our continued development,” said Alice Imanishimwe, 18.
The first-time voter said it is fascinating to vote.
“Whoever has aspirations must come and vote for someone who will help them realise them.”
Anastasia Nyiramakwikwi, 90, said she had to take opportunity to vote for what she said was probably her last time.
“I am old but strong enough to cast a vote. I have to exercise my right while I still can,” she said.
“At my age, I know a lot regarding my country’s past. I had to consider the progress made and vote for the one who will keep it,” said Verdiane Kabagwira, 76.
Ernest Akuzwe, 33, said he pondered what he heard in the campaigns and the future he wants for his country before electing a candidate.
“I feel proud to take part in choosing a leader who will sustain my country’s course of development,” he said.
François Nkurunziza, a visually impaired man, hailed the facilitation given to people with disabilities during the election.
“I am really happy to have voted at ease. In the past elections, I had to come with a young relative who would help me vote. But now I have used the braille and I have done it myself for the first time,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Gatsibo, residents attributed the high early turnout at all the district’s 83 polling stations to high value attached to the exercise.
“There was enough civic education by the National Electoral Commission, all of us knew what it entails to participate in the exercise. Besides, the campaigns gave us insights enough to make decisions on candidates of choice. We were eager to cast our vote,” said Alex Kayinamura, from Kabarore Sector.
Olive Betty Utamuriza, the district returning officer, said she was satisfied with the turnout of voters and the fact that they voted early.
“The voters’ maturity exhibited is extraordinary. Look around, people have left, you may think they never appeared but they did in thousands and left. This level of understanding will be envied by many,” she said.
Election observers from East African Community were at various polling stations across the province.
Additional Reporting by Stephen Rwembeho