Civic, rights groups say legislative polls were free and fair

Leading local and regional rights groups have expressed their satisfaction about the recently concluded parliamentary elections, describing the polls as transparent, free, and fair.
Eugène Rwibasira during the media briefing  yesterday.    The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.
Eugène Rwibasira during the media briefing yesterday. The New Times/Timothy Kisambira.

Leading local and regional rights groups have expressed their satisfaction about the recently concluded parliamentary elections, describing the polls as transparent, free, and fair.

The Rwandan Civil Society Platform, the largest civil society group in the country, yesterday released its preliminary findings from its observation of the elections and concluded that the elections were transparent.

The group maintained the biggest number of electoral observers of all local and foreign observatory missions, deploying some 598 observers in 403 administrative sectors in the country.

According to Eugène Rwibasira, the Chief Observer for the group’s observation mission, the electoral process was properly conducted despite minor incidents.

“So far we think there was proper conduct of the elections,” he told the media at the announcement of the observers’ findings yesterday.

Rwibasira and his team said the major case they will put to the electoral commission’s attention is the fact that the country’s electoral code is “silent” on the proper conduct of public civil servants during the campaign period.

He said some public servants felt free to either wear party signs at their workplace or even close their offices to go for their parties’ campaigns, leaving offices underserved or with no services at all.

The law does not say how to penalise a public servant that closes their offices during electoral campaigns or what to do in case a public servant is involved with some fanatic behaviours, Rwibasira observed.

Respecting laws

“We will ask that it never happens again,” he said, warning that the behaviours are indeed an infringement on people’s rights since the public is left without some services during elections.

Meanwhile, another group of observers from local and regional civil society organisations has declared the country’s recently concluded parliamentary elections free and fair.

The group was made up of observers from regional rights group League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region (LDGL), the Rwanda Youth Association for the Promotion of Democracy (AJIPRODHO), and  the Action pour le Développement du Peuple.

The observers noted that the elections were conducted in a peaceful environment  and the law regulating the polls was respected.

The president of LDGL, Cyriaque Nzayisenga, who spoke on behalf of the organisations, said that the elections were conducted “in calm”.

He also noted that there is need for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to continue training its election volunteers to make them more informed as well as members of the public to make them more aware of the electoral process.

Rwandans chose their next members of parliament for the Lower Chamber from September 16 to 18, the third such elections since 2003.

 

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