Rwandans in Diaspora cast ballots in parliamentary poll

Thousands of Rwandans in the Diaspora on Sunday took part in parliamentary elections a day ahead of the Election Day back home.

Thousands of Rwandans in the Diaspora on Sunday took part in parliamentary elections a day ahead of the Election Day back home.

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where 140 people were expected to cast their ballots, the poll was conducted in “a calm environment.”

The majority of the voters were students from Ethiopian Universities and other Rwandans living and working in Ethiopia and Djibouti, a Rwandan embassy statement said.

In Denmark, voters travelled to cast their ballots in neighbouring Sweden.

Jackiline Hansen said despite the long journey she had to make she was excited to take part in deciding home homeland’s leadership.

“People participated highly. Even Rwandans in Jylland and Fyn in Denmark voted from Sweden, in tranquility. I made a 500 kilometer journey and my colleagues travelled as many as 764 kilometers – they left their homes at 7a.m in the morning and returned home late in the night,” she told The New Times.

“Even though we drove cars for very long, tiring hours, we returned home feeling that we had accomplished a precious act, and we thank our government for having extended that opportunity to us.”

Rwandans in Washington DC, New York, Indiana, Oklahoma and California also voted in a “highly enthusiastic atmosphere.”

“The voters in the United States expect the next Chamber of Deputies to work closely with them to address their pressing issues. Some noted the need for candidates to take advantage of social media in an effort to campaign to Rwandans abroad while others suggested adding a representative of Rwandans abroad in the future elections,” reads a statement from the Rwandan embassy in Washington DC.

Under the current Chamber of Deputies set up, matters regarding Rwandans in Diaspora are handled by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security.
The embassy statement said the voters “welcomed the election with excitement.”

Amb. Mathilde Mukantabana, the Rwandan ambassador to the US, said the poll transcended national boundaries to strengthen the full participation of Rwandans abroad in the country’s political and socioeconomic development.

“In New York, California, Michigan and Oklahoma, voters exuded the same spirit of patriotism and some stayed until the end of the proceedings to celebrate,” the statement added.

There were 31,514 registered voters in the Diaspora.

Meanwhile back home, elections for the 53 seats which are contested openly took place on Monday.

According to preliminary results released last night the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front had garnered a commanding 76.07 per cent of the 75 per cent votes tallied by midnight.

The party is running alongside four others which contributed eight out of 80 candidates on the coalition’s list of candidates.

Final results are expected not later than September 25.

Today, 24 female MPs will be elected through electoral colleges in five constituencies across the country.

And tomorrow, on Wednesday, two MPs will be picked by the members of youth councils at district and national levels, as well as representatives of students in both higher learning institutions and high schools.

On the same day, one aspiring parliamentarian representing the disabled will also be elected by an electoral college drawn from district, provincial and national councils of people with disabilities.



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