Electoral monitoring team from the East African Community have called upon political parties in the country to appreciate the importance of deploying polling agents in elections.
The observers made the recommendation in their draft report, released yesterday, where they said the electoral process in the three-day parliamentary polls this week was by far peaceful.
According to Musa Sirma, the head of the mission, some political parties and independent candidates lacked representation at some polling stations, saying deploying monitors by all parties participating in polls is a prerequisite for a smooth electoral process.
“Concerted efforts should be made to sensitise political parties and citizens in general on the importance of poll monitoring and, where possible, participation through volunteerism should be encouraged,” he told a news conference yesterday.
Some parties like the Liberal Party (PL) decided not to deploy polling agents, with the party’s president saying on Election Day that they had trust in the electoral commission.
None of the four independents deployed agents at polling centres either.
According to Sirma, deploying agents by parties or candidates participating in an election is crucial, adding that their mission observed some minor incidents, which could have been avoided if all parties had been represented.
“The mission also noted a general lack of interest by citizens and political players in the outcome of the elections. There was noticeable low-key attendance at news conferences on provisional results’ announcement by NEC,” the group said in a statement.
Sirma also encouraged the commission to consider serialising ballot papers “to minimise the susceptibility of manipulation,” a challenge he said was also experienced in the previous poll in 2008.
He, however, commended the National Electoral Commission for facilitating citizens in the Diaspora to exercise their civic right, which he said should be emulated by other member states of the EAC.
RPF and its coalition partners retained the majority seats in the Parliament after garnering 76.22 per cent victory. The coalition won 41 seats out of the 53 contested for under adult suffrage in the 80-person Parliament.
On coverage, the observer mission said the media did not significantly engage in the electoral process.
“Despite the challenges the mission is of the general view that the elections were conducted in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework of Rwanda and the outcome reflects the will of the people of Rwanda,” he said
The final report will be released later.