RWANDA: All set for Friday polls, says NEC

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RWANDA- Incumbent President Paul Kagame, of RPF-Inkotanyi, is being challenged by Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.

Rwandans in the Diaspora will cast their vote tomorrow while voters in the country will make their choice on who will lead the country’s transformation agenda for the next seven years on Friday.

Over 6.8 million registered voters are expected to vote in elections that will cost Rwf6.2 billion. At least 54 per cent of voters are female. The number of voters has increased from 5.1 million, with nearly 1.7 million new voters.

Distribution of voting materials to all the country’s 30 districts has been carried out without any incident and the National Electoral Commission (NEC) will now deliver the materials to polling centres at the cell level.

The Executive Secretary of NEC, Charles Munyaneza, said that what remains was to see that the voting materials are delivered to the designated polling stations on time.

The delivery of ballot papers, voter lists and voter ink are expected to be done today ahead of the presidential election on Friday.

To avoid long queues and make the voting process even easier, NEC has set up 2,340 polling centres and 16,691 polling rooms.

“As we speak now, all the polling materials are district stations and obviously what follows is that they will be transported to the centers where the voting is going to take place,” Munyaneza told The New Times.

Diaspora voters

Munyaneza said there are 98 polling centres in the Diaspora where 44,362 people are registered to cast their votes at embassies or consulates.

However, he said that this time round, the number of Rwandans from the Diaspora who will be in the country is big and NEC was considering setting up a special polling centre to cater for them.

“This year, the number of those from the Diaspora who are going to be in the country during the voting period is surprisingly big. Those who are registered voters will be given a special document by NEC to allow them exercise their voting rights but, also, we are considering setting up a special polling centre for them,” he said.

Police assures

Police Spokesperson Theos Badege said the Force has deployed its officers at all polling centres across the country ahead of D-Day to ensure all Rwandans exercise their right to vote in a secure environment.

“Police would like to thank everyone who has taken part in the soon to be concluded presidential campaigns for the good conduct that they exhibited. No major incidents were reported and we reassure Rwandans that Friday’s presidential election will be held in a similar environment,” he said.

Badege attributed the peaceful campaigns to coordinated efforts by all stakeholders that worked closely with the police at campaign sites to ensure that those showing up at the rallies and the candidates don’t encounter any incidents.

Observer missions

Munyaneza said the number of observers that have registered with NEC are more than 1,700 but the number is expected to increase significantly.

“We have received a total of 1780 observers so far but the number is obviously going to increase because, as we speak, some are continuing to walk in for accreditation. We expect the number to go up to 1900,” he said.

Muzinge Nampito, the in-charge of communication for the 15-member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Observer Mission, said it was too early to comment on the process since the team had only managed to visit one campaign venue so far.

“We just arrived from Gicumbi and tomorrow we are attending two other rallies and maybe after that, we can give you an assessment,” Nampito told The New Times.

On Monday, the Head of COMESA’s Peace, Security and Democracy Programme, Elizabeth Mutunga, said the team was impressed with the peace and security that have characterised the campaigning period.

“Ours is a short term observation mission. However, what other teams have told me is that two of our fundamental principles, which is peace and security, have so far been observed during the campaigns and that is commendable,” she said.

Over 6.8 million registered voters are expected to cast their vote in elections that will cost Rwf6.2 billion (about $7.4 million).

Of these, 54 per cent are female. The number of voters has increased from 5.1 million in 2010 with nearly 1.7 million new voters.

©The New Times

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