VILLAGE URUGWIRO - President Paul Kagame Monday morning met with two of the European Union Election Observer Mission’s (the EU EOM) key members at Village Urugwiro.
The duo also flanked by David McRae, EC Head of Delegation, held brief discussions with the President about EU EOM’s current Parliamentary election observation.
“I told him [the President] what we are doing here; to observe how elections are going on and then informed him that on September 11, we’ll be joined by about 50 other short-term observers. The President was keen to listen, I think he was enthusiastic,” Michael Cashman, the EU’s chief observer for Rwanda told reporters shortly after the meeting. He was accompanied to Village Urugwiro by his Deputy, Claudia Vollmer.
Cashman also shed light on what he made of a recent near-dispute in which Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) chief warned some of the EU EOM members against ‘crossing the line.’
“Of course the long term observers here conduct themselves absolutely according to the mandate that we have,” he said.
“And indeed, I raised this with the President. We all gain by working together, but I’d like to emphasize to you that the team I have here, the observers that I have here, wherever they operate, operate according to the international code of conduct,” Cashman said.
“On that for me there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever. If anyone has any concerns, my door is always open.”
In a recent [August 13] brief meeting between EU EOM and NEC at its Headquarters in Kimihurura, Karangwa pointed to incidents he considered as going beyond election observation and jumping into domestic platforms.
“Allowing you to attend political party meetings is not part of the National Electoral Commission responsibilities. If you want to do so, you would rather ask permission from that political party leader but not under our accreditation,” a The New Times reporter quoted an annoyed Karangwa then.
Cashman, however, did not entirely rule out the possibility of problems resulting from some misunderstandings in a task he considered “a huge responsibility.”
“Sometimes, out in the villages– on the road when the EU observers seek opinions– people might not know why we are here and so there is certain hesitation,” he acknowledged.
“Which is why we discussed this– after a brief discussion with Professor Chrysologue. We are going to have a radio campaign. We are not here to interfere,” he underscored, stressing the need for creating awareness.
“When people are aware of why we are here, we will have greater cooperation.”
Cashman reiterated his appreciation for the positive collaboration with government.
“I have had the highest cooperation from all members of government. I want to see that happening at the local level as well” he said.