Rwandans countrywide yesterday took to polling centres to cast their ballot for their party or independent candidates of their choice.
Yesterday’s election, which pitted a coalition led by the ruling RPF-Inkotanyi, three other political parties and four independent candidates was for 53 openly contested seats out of 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
For any party or independent candidate to get a seat in Parliament, they need to garner at least 5 per cent of the national vote
The president of Social Democratic Party (PSD), Dr Vincent Biruta, said they expect victory because of the vigorous campaign they ran during the past three weeks.
In the previous Parliament, PSD had the second biggest number of party representation with seven MPs, having garnered 13 per cent in the 2008 elections.
The party officials say they are optimistic the number will increase this time aroumd.
Dr Biruta, who is also the Minister for Education, cast his ballot from Kacyiru Primary School in Kamatari Cell in Kacyiru Sector. He arrived at 8:40am, Dr Biruta, clad in a sky-blue jacket and navy-blue trousers, was accompanied by his wife.
Speaking after casting his ballot, Dr Biruta said: “The elections were well organised, there were no long lines and we have no complaints so far. I am positive the outcome will be acceptable to all, owing to the meticulous organisation of the entire process.”
“We are now waiting for the results and are hopeful for a significant win considering how we campaigned; definitely we want to increase our seats in Parliament.”
At the same polling station, several voters who spoke to this paper expressed their excitement for having exercised their right of voting.
Valeria Mukagatare, 64, said, “I have completed voting and I am happy that I made my choice I am now heading back home to wait for the results on the radio.”
According to Emmanuel Muhawenimana, a polling officer, the voter turn-up was high in the first hours after the polling centre was opened at 7am.
PL president Protais Mitali said after casting his ballot that their hope is to double the representation they have in the August House, which in the previous Chamber of Deputies was four lawmakers.
He premised this on their manifesto, which he said was well-received by the electorate countrywide.
Mitali, who is also the Minister for Sports and Culture, was accompanied by his family to vote from Ecole Remera Catholique in Bibare Cell, Kimironko Sector in Kigali at around lunch time.
“We we had the ears of the electorate, so I am positive they will choose PL. We hope to win many seats, at least double the seats we had in the last Parliament,” Mitali said.
He said the National Electoral Commission had done a commendable job.
His party, he said, did not send any observer to monitor the polls, but they would accept the results.
Bibare Cell has two polling centres at Kimironko II and Remera Catholique School with more than 9,000 and 4,600 voters, respectively.
The polls were held in a ceremonial mood, with decoration made of national flag colours and sound system that throughout the day played music with civic education lyrics.
Ushers in traditional attire were deployed from the main entrance of the polling centre and at every entrance of voting booths to facilitate the voters.
PS Imberakuri leader Christine Mukabunane was greeted by excited supporters as she turned up to vote in her home village in Rurama in Kayonza District.
PS Imberakuri is a new entrant in the political landscape.
Mukabunane said her party was confident to garner enough votes to guarantee them seats in Parliament.
She, however, complained that there were some irregularities in some parts of the country.
“Here, people are voting without any anomaly, but I’m getting reports of malpractices in Ngororero and Rubavu districts. Generally, the process is peaceful,” she told journalists from her village.
But Frank Kayiranga Rwigamba, the Eastern Province NEC coordinator, refuted the allegations of irregularities.
“I don’t think there could have been any problems. The only isolated issues were party observers who lacked credentials,” Kayiranga said.
He said other hiccups involved observers who carried accreditation with names that did not correspond with those on their national IDs.
Meanwhile, other discrepancies in the City of Kigali included people who are registered upcountry but turned up to vote at the centres within the City.
Jean Marie Rutaganda, who presided over Kimironko II polling centre, said some voters did not utilise the online facility provided by the electoral commission to change their polling centres.
Reported by Jean de la Croix Tabaro, Edwin Musoni and Stephen Rwembeho