Monday’s Parliamentary polls at different upcountry polling stations went without a hitch, officials have said.
In Rubavu District, the district Mayor Celestin Twagiramungu said there were no reported incidents of malpractices or disorder during the voting exercise across the district.
“People voted without coercion. Some of the sectors such as Busesamana, Cyanzarwe and Kanama had already finished voting by 11am,” he said.
Polling stations were situated at different locations such as secondary schools classrooms and Kigali Independent University lecture rooms.
An official of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in charge of Rubavu, Nyabihu and Ngororero districts, Goretti Dusabe, also said the exercise went on smoothly.
“No malpractices were reported during the polling. I would like on behalf of the Electoral Commission to thank all voters in the three districts for turning up massively ….and for their calmness during the exercise,” Dusabe said, adding it was an indicator that Rwandans have matured politically and they love their country.
She noted that judging from most voters’ lists, it was estimated that over 95% of residents in the three districts participated in the elections.
Dusabe said that according to NEC directives, the results would be announced to the public within five days.
Residents in Gisenyi sector also described the second legislative poll since the 1994 genocide, as fair and peaceful.
“I personally arrived at the polling station at 6 am thinking that there would be a lot of chaos and long lines but to my surprise, it was peaceful and very rapid. We were given ballot papers and directed into secret rooms where we voted the parties of our own choices,” said Abdul Niyonzima.
He explained that as voters, they had played their role and urged the elected members of Parliament to work hard towards improving people’s welfare.
“They should not forget us, they should always come back to listen to our problems because they are our voice,” he said.
Meanwhile, in Rwamagana District, the Governor of the Eastern Province, Ephraim Kabayija described voter turn up as perfect.
Wearing a beaming face, Kabayija told journalists at Islamic Secondary School polling station, in Rurembo, that by 10 am, over 95 percent of voters had cast their votes.
Kabayija also pointed out that there was no big challenge in the elections. However, there were cases where some observers had identifications from political parties authorising them to monitor elections, with names not matching those on their national identity cards.
The governor continued that there were some observers who were sent by their respective political parties but were not on the list of the election observers at the voting sites. However, he said, they contained the situation.
Zaina Kayitesi, the election coordinator at Cyanya polling site, said there were isolated cases of people who wanted to vote from stations where they did not register from. The site had 5,180 registered voters from ten villages. There were 11 voting rooms.
“Everyone was willing to vote and the turn-out shows how devoted people are towards the voting,” Kayitesi said.
Saidati Mukamuhigirwa, a polling official, said they gave special attention to pregnant women, the sick and elderly in order to ensure that everyone participated in the elections.
Mukamuhigirwa disclosed that all voters had been sensitised the previous day on elections in order to address any possible problems.
In Rusizi District, Kamembe sector, at around 11:35 about 80 % of the total number of voters in Amahoro, Kamashangi, Badura, and Mbangira cells had already cast their votes.
In other sectors of Gihundwe, Mururu, Nyakarenzo, Nzahaha, Muganza, Bugarama and Giheke over 75% of the voters had finished by 2 pm.
However, at some polling sites in Mururu sector, voting was delayed for about 40 minutes due to delays in the arrival of the ballot boxes.
In Nyamasheke district, about 89% of the voters had cast their votes by 1:30pm. The exercise was monitored by observers from the civil society and European Union, amidst tight security.
However, scores of residents among them students who did not have voting cards and those who were not on the voters’ register were barred from voting in some Sectors.
At all the polling stations in both Rusizi and Nyamasheke that The New Times visited, residents had finished voting by around 2:00pm.
Though, electoral commission officials at all the sites kept on calling residents who had not voted using public microphones to go and do so.
Residents who talked to The New Times shortly after voting hailed this year’s election exercise, saying it was well organised and there was no intimidation of voters.
“For sure I am very happy with the way these elections were organised because each and every individual voted the political party of his/her choice an indication that there is democracy in our country,” Christine Mukabatesi a resident of Giheke sector in Rusizi said.
BY MARTIN TINDIWENSI, FLORENCE MUTESI, AND STEVENSON MUGISHA.