KIGALI - Millions of Rwandans woke up early Monday morning to vote in new members of Parliament in what many analysts say will give another overwhelming mandate to the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).
The contest pitted a six-party RPF coalition against, the Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liberal Party (PL) and the only independent candidate, Jean Marie Vianney Harerimana.
Preliminary results from the Diaspora trickling in indicate that Harerimana has beaten the odds and made a strong showing. He is said to be currently in second place after the RPF in polls conducted in Rwanda’s diplomatic missions abroad.
President Kagame cast his vote at APE Rugunga polling station in Kigali.
Shortly after casting his vote yesterday, Kagame said that his major considerations while voting were the country’s unity, democracy and development.
The President who was instantly thronged by local and international media, said that being the leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), he voted for it and underscored the importance of partnering with other political parties for the country’s progress.
Saying he had no doubt Rwandans would vote for the RPF in big numbers, he maintained that joining forces is important.
“Voting is good,” he said, stressing that it is another big step Rwanda has taken and hopes it will become a ‘culture.’
The president said he believed that people ‘voted well’ and according to their needs and wishes.
“These elections have significance in a sense of enhancing and continuing the stability the country has already experienced in the last years,” he said.
“The more democracy is entrenched and the more multiparty democracy is entrenched, the more stability we are looking to obtain and more development,” he remarked, further urging Rwandans’ on cooperation.
“And we can build on that for our people,” he pointed out.
“Rwandans should work together for a common goal,” he said, explaining that even though people had ‘different expressions and sentiments,’ cooperation should be ultimate.
“In the end, they have to work together for national development. It is important,” the president underscored.
Queried about expectations from the new Parliament, he said that government would request them to work even harder in order to play a role in the country’s development.
Foreign media also pressed the President to comment on what is seen by many as ‘promising developments’ in conflict-torn Zimbabwe.
“I am happy Zimbabwe problems are being addressed and that coming from Zimbabweans themselves, sorting out their misunderstandings is a very healthy thing for Zimbabwe but also for the continent,” he noted.
He underscored that what was affecting Zimbabwe was affecting the whole continent, saying that the current breakthrough should be attributed to Zimbabweans themselves and secondly, to President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa.
Also present at APE Rugunga school grounds was Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa, NEC’s chief who spoke about the significance of the polls, among other things.
He acknowledged the awesome task of voter registration as one of the challenges NEC faced. He said that organizing for and realizing the registration of Rwandans both in the country and abroad was a tremendous challenge even though all looked promising.
“We are expecting a very high turn up basing on how very early voters turned up at voting stations around the country,” he said.
Sunday Nkubito, an excited voter, observed that there had been remarkable improvements since the last polls.
“It looks like the NEC is now better organized and even people this time round have participated more than last time,” he excitedly said.
Very many observers, including teams from the European Union (EU), African Union (AU) and the East African community (EAC) bloc, among others, have spread all over the country to oversee the polls scheduled to end Thursday.