Parliamentary election observers from development partners are already in town and others on their way coming. An 80-member strong European Observer Mission representing EU’s interests recently arrived in Kigali on invitation by government.
The European Parliament will also have its own team taking part as monitors in the exercise slated for September 15-18.
The first post-1994 Genocide democratic elections were conducted only nine years later, in 2003. They may not have been perfectly organised but they largely passed as not only peaceful, but free and fair as well.
Development partners have a stake in the country’s democratisation process for reasons well understood by nationals here. That is why they are here on appreciation and voluntary invitation from government.
That the initiative to ask for the observers’ presence was Rwanda’s is a sign of confidence in the institutions and systems responsible for the electoral process.
The eagerness for improvement on the 2003 electoral performance is not only with the foreign observers. Even more anxious are the masses, the Rwandan citizens who are the ultimate biggest winners or losers depending on how the exercise goes.
Nevertheless, early signs such as the unprecedented act of issuing guidelines to journalists by the High Council of the Press as a reminder that election times are normally more challenging professionally, point to a smooth process.
The media protection-cum-regulatory body is also mobilising other stakeholders to come up with a modest fund from which least affording media outlets intending to cover electoral activities countrywide will benefit.
There is also the vigilance by the National Electoral Commission, seen for example in the organ’s effort to work closely with police and other national security agencies to ensure maximum order before, during and after elections.
Community Policing, a new department introduced by Rwanda National Police, has its work cut out for it. On the other hand the hands-on approach applied by the Force through its latest innovation is sure to do well on the law and order score chart.
Let consolidation of the cooperation between government on one hand and civil society and the international community on the other continue for best results.