The head of the East African Community Electoral Observatory Mission has called on Rwandans to discharge their political rights by turning up in big numbers and participate in the parliamentary elections slated for next week.
Musa Sirma said a credible electoral process is critical in promoting regional political integration and strengthening democratic processes, which are key to the bloc’s integration agenda.
“I bring the message of peace and solidarity with the Rwandan people on behalf of the East African Community. I urge Rwandans to turn up in large numbers to exercise their civil and legal rights in an environment that promotes competition and tolerance and elect their leaders in a peaceful manner,” said Sirma, who is also a former Kenyan minister for EAC affairs yesterday.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) says international observers accredited to monitor the elections will represent different blocs including, the European Union, African Union, Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) and EAC.
Sirma pointed out that the EAC Election Observer Mission will use internationally acceptable standards, as enshrined in the EAC principles for election observation, in assessing and drawing conclusions on the electoral process that will see an 80-person parliament elected for a five-year term.
The EAC mission comprises 40 members drawn from the East African Legislative Assembly, Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and National Human Rights Commissions from the other four EAC partner states.
Up to 5,953,531 Rwandans are eligible to vote and there are 410 candidates for the 80 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.
Charles Njoroge, the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of political federation, said he was optimistic the electoral process would be go smoothly.
“There is no doubt that the election will be conducted in conformity with the Constitution and other laws of Rwanda, as well as other regional, continental and international instruments and standards that Rwanda has subscribed to,” he said.
The observers will assess and determine whether the elections were conducted in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework governing elections in Rwanda and determine whether the outcome of the electoral process as a whole reflect the will of the people of Rwanda.
They will further assess whether the conditions exist for the conduct of the elections that allow the people of Rwanda to freely express their will.
According to Sirma, on September 14, teams will be deployed to all the districts where they will interact with stakeholders and observe the final campaign rallies by the candidates.
On polling days, Monday, September 16 to Wednesday, September 18, 2013, the teams will observe the voting and counting processes at the polling stations.
On Thursday, September 19, all EAC teams will reconvene in Kigali for a debriefing session, after which the Mission will issue an interim statement on its preliminary findings on the electoral process.
“The EAC Election Observer Mission is committed to working closely with all relevant stakeholders in Rwanda and other observer groups,” Sirma said, pledging to work in an impartial, objective and transparent manner at all stages of the electoral process.