Over 600 register to observe elections

African Union observers during last year’s presidential elections. File.

With approximately one week to the parliamentary elections, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) says that it has so far registered 603 election observers.

The Director of Communication at NEC, Moses Bokasa, told The New Times yesterday that the number of observers is expected to increase to about 2000.

“We have registered different observers who include locals, embassy representatives, civil society, government institutions and individuals. The number is growing and in a week we expect them to be more,” he said.

Among international observers, only the African Union team has sent a request seeking to participate, he said.

“The participation of the international community is always welcome but their absence is also not an issue because, for instance, some have told us that with the peace and security in the country, they don’t have reason to think that the elections won’t go well,” he said.

A team from the African Union was in the country in July on a pre-election assessment mission where it reviewed the state of preparedness for the September parliamentary elections.

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Led by the AU Head of Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit, Guy Cyrille Tapoko, the team explained that it was here to examine the overall context within which the elections will be held to ensure that the country’s democracy is nurtured and consolidated in a manner that reflects the ideals of  the AU’s charter on democracy, elections and governance.

“The team is not here to teach but to learn about the electoral system in Rwanda. AU’s mandate is to make sure that we have peace on the continent yet 80 per cent of the conflicts on our continent are a result of disputed elections. We are here to get an overview of the pre, during and after electoral process,” he said.

The Lower Chamber of Parliament is made up of 80 members. 53 are drawn from political parties or independents, 24 represent women, two are youth representatives, while one represents people with disabilities. The elections are expected to cost an estimated Rwf6bn while up to 7.1 million are expected to cast their vote.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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