Legislative Elections: Kagame votes in Beijing as Diaspora goes to the polls

Thousands of Rwandans from across the world on Sunday headed to designated polling stations to take part in the legislative elections.

The elections were in the Diaspora held a day before the general elections in the country that will see 53 members of parliament elected through the direct ballot.

The other 27 legislators will be elected through indirect vote by special interest groups including women, the youth and people with disabilities.

Besides Rwandans living in Diaspora, the electoral law allows any registered voter to cast their ballot from outside the country, as long as they fulfil the requirements.

President Paul Kagame who is in China for the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), earlier on Sunday went to the Rwandan Embassy in Beijing to cast his ballot.

He was accompanied by First Lady Jeannette Kagame, who also voted from the embassy.

In some parts of the world, depending on the size of country, more than one polling station was opened up to relieve Rwandans from making long distance to exercise their civic right.

Our correspondent in Germany, Isaac Mugabi says that in the European country, polling stations were selected in a way that every Rwandan living in Germany can access them near their hometown.

“It was done to ensure no one is left out on such an important occasion which is also a time to catch up and discuss issues back home that directly affecting them,” said Mugabi who has been following activities in the three designated polling stations in Germany.

The polling is taking place in the cities of Berlin, Bonn and Kaiserslautern, according to Mugabi.

The turn up, he said, has been “huge”  in the three cities and that the process has so far been without any incident and there had not been any case of voters missing on the register.

“This is largely due to the sensitization that was done prior to the vote by embassy officials in Berlin,” he said, referring to the huge turn up.

Speaking to The New Times, Christine Nkulikiyinka, the Rwandan Ambassador in Sweden, who is also accredited to all the Nordic countries, said that there was a lot of enthusiasm about the exercise.   

“Some voters arrived just as the polling stations opened. So far we are having a good turnout in the Nordics. We have polling stations in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland,” Nkulikiyinka told The New Times.

Within the region, Gashegu Muramira, our Correspondent in Uganda says that by midday, over 5,000 of the 8,000 registered voters had already cast their ballot.

“More are still coming and it is expected that majority of the registered voters from across Uganda to turn up “ he said.

There is one polling station in Uganda and that is at the Rwandan High Commission in the capital Kampala.

In Kenya, two polling stations have been opened; one in the capital Nairobi and the other one in the coastal city, Mombasa.

Earliest voter

Due to the international dateline, the members of the Rwanda Diaspora in New Zealand were earliest to vote over the whole world.

According to Egide Kalisa, a member of the Rwandan Diaspora in New Zealand, the first voter arrived shortly after the polls officially opened at 9 am Sunday which was 11 pm on  Saturday back in Rwanda.

The polling station in Auckland was manned by three polling officers; Claire Kantengwa, who is also the chairperson of the Rwandan community in the city, and Athanase Karangwa, her deputy.

The other agent was Egide Kalisa, a PhD students in New Zealand who is also a lecturer at the University of Rwanda.   


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