Regional observers say polls were free and fair

The East African Community election mission that is in the country to monitor the parliamentary elections has commended Monday’s polls, saying the entire process was held in “a democratic and peaceful manner.”
Sirma addresses the media in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.
Sirma addresses the media in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/ T. Kisambira.

The East African Community election mission that is in the country to monitor the parliamentary elections has commended Monday’s polls, saying the entire process was held in “a democratic and peaceful manner.”

In an interview with The New Times, the head of the team, Musa Sirma, advised other EAC partner states to emulate Rwanda, saying the country is a progressive democracy.

Sirma, who is a former Kenyan Minister for EAC, said by yesterday, all the reports from their field officers had indicated a peaceful election.

Fifty-three people await to be declared victors in the directly contested run for seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

“Neither I nor any of our officers witnessed any kind of hooliganism, be it in the campaigns or on Election Day. Early in the morning, people turned up in big numbers at all the polling station I visited,”  Sirma said.

The EAC observer mission comprised 40 members drawn from the East African Legislative Assembly, Electoral Management Bodies, Civil Society Organisations, and National Human Rights Commissions from the other four EAC partner states.

However, Sirma said his observation led to the conclusion that some political parties were too weak to challenge the RPF-led coalitions, who won the poll, according to preliminary results.

He said their reports indicated that some parties could not afford to deploy polling agents in some areas.

The observers were in to assess  whether the elections were conducted in accordance with the constitution and the legal framework governing elections in the country and determine whether the outcome of the process as a whole reflect the will of the people.

Meanwhile, the Rwandan Civil Society Platform Observation Mission said some grassroots officials turned up at polling centres in T-shirts of certain political parties, contrary to the rules.

Hiccups

“Generally, the exercise was conducted in peaceful manner and the way it was organised is commendable, despite some small issues like during the campaigns where some candidates failed to turn up for their rally, ” Eugene Rwibasira, the chief observer and spokesperson of the mission, said.

Rwibasira said the final draft of their report will be released tomorrow, after all the elections are conducted.

Elections continued yesterday in colleges where representatives in their respective cells voted for women parliamentarians, a process that will lead to the election of 24 representatives.

Today is the final polling day as youth representatives elect their two legislators, while persons living with disabilities will pick their lone representative.

Other election observer missions such as Comesa, EU, and AU are also expected to release their findings today and tomorrow.

The preliminary results, released Monday midnight by National Electoral Commission, showed that RPF and its coalition partners had garnered 76.22 per cent of the tallied vote.

 A total of 5,953,531 Rwandans were expected to take part in Monday’s election for 53 openly contested seats in an 80-member Chamber of Deputies.

 

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