Long lines formed at different polling stations in the countryside at the weekend, as residents voted their representatives to the Cell Advisory Council.
Voters arrived at polling stations as early as 6.30 am in some areas and voting started at 7.00am at most polling stations.
The elections were meant to fill positions of teachers’ representatives, youth, women and representatives of the private sector, to the Cell Council.
The officials said the exercise ran smoothly at the majority of polling stations.
In Nyagatare sector, Nyagatare District however, the elections started at 9am, 2 hours after the official starting time, with residents turning up in small numbers.
However, at one of the polling sites which The New Times visited, 30% of women meant to be elected under the mandatory quota’s were denied their electoral rights by their husbands who denied them the chance to contest.
In Rukomo sector, there was drama after a woman was struck off the candidates’ line by her husband. The man argued that participating in politics would affect the woman’s domestic work.
In Rwempasha sector in the same district, Jean Bosco Matsiko, the presiding officer said: “Elections went on well and people expressed interest in electing their leaders who will represent them in different local administrative units.”
In Kayonza District, the electoral officer, Vienne Ngarambe, said the turn out of voters was remarkable, describing it as a sign of political maturity.
“The people have matured politically due to experience and mass sensitisation. You can see the way they vet the candidates before electing one, it is a great sign of political maturity,” he said.
It was noticeable however, that some cells lacked literate candidates. A candidate was at least expected to have finished high school and some cells could not produce such a person.
According to the officials, in such a case, residents were allowed to choose other cells.
“We experienced problems of such eligible candidates in some cells, because those with such qualifications naturally preferred to shift for employment elsewhere within the country.
But we allowed them to elect those residing else where,” Joseph Butare, a local leader said.
Meanwhile, in Gicumbi District, at Kibali Primary School polling station, which was visited by The New Times, voting ended by 9.30 a.m.
“The exercise went on smoothly because residents had been sensitised early enough,” said Nyakabungo Cell election coordinator, Jean Bonaventure Ngendahayo.
At some polling stations in Byumba Sector however, voting went on till 10.00 am, due to a high turn out, with representation positions being highly competitive.
“This Cell has a big population of residents because it is in the outskirts of Byumba town, where many town employees and business people reside,” said Murama Cell election coordinator Agastha Mukakidende.
Gicumbi District’s officer in-charge of the electoral Commission Richard Gakwerere said the elections in the entire district were termed by the commission as fair.
“The entire exercise went on well, with high voter turn out,” said Gakwerere.
REPORTED BY DAN NGABONZIZA, VINCENT GAFARANGA & AMBROSE GAHENE