The New Times (Kigali)
23 September 2008
Posted to the web 23 September 2008
Once again the just-concluded Rwandan Parliamentary elections have been lauded as free and fair. This time around the compliments were from the East African Community (EAC) election observer mission when it commended the Electoral Commission yesterday.
Briefing journalists on their just concluded work, Amani Kabourou, head of team, cemented what most observers have put out in their preliminary reports.
"The elections were peaceful and transparent. Hence, the role played by the Rwanda Electoral Commission to encourage high voter turn-out as well as voluntary participation by citizens is highly commendable," he said.
His team also lauded what they regard as non-partisan aspects of the polls - seats for youth, women and the disabled. These, they said, were worth noting as a model to be emulated in the region.
"Rwanda's Parliamentary elections have been free and fair and conformed to the principles of good governance and democracy," he added, shortly before underlining that this was a preliminary report without giving a specific date when the final one will be released.
"This is just an extract of our report. We do have procedures to follow," he said, while acknowledging, due to reporters' ceaseless prodding, that they also noticed some slip-ups and that they were making fitting recommendations.
"Some ballot boxes were not sealed and we have made recommendations on how to handle these. When the report is appropriately circulated, you will see that," he said, further stressing that it couldn't have negatively affected the polls.
"Ballot boxes should be properly sealed to enhance trust in the entire process. But because it is also true that [partial] results were announced at polling stations, I find it very difficult for anybody to add or change anything," he said.
Kabourou also stressed that they (his team) acknowledged having come 'a bit late' and, pointed out that it had been noted.
"We recommended to the EAC that it should deploy observers in a timely manner to allow them to gain necessary knowledge."
Dora K. Byamukama who headed the team in the Northern Province made it clear that her views didn't differ from the Chairman's, further highlighting "very important positive aspects".
Preparedness at polling stations, time keeping and high women participation among others were, according to her, simply outstanding.
"This is a plus especially for the EAC where in most instances, women think that politics is not for them," she said. Kenya's Augustine Chemoges Lotodo reminded journalists that all EAC electoral bodies participated and that a bill was in the pipeline to harmonise the bloc's electoral laws."
This is just but one of the processes that we are going to include to be able to observe more effectively," he underscored. Apart from members of the bloc's East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the polls were also observed, and highly praised by others - the EU, AU, the Commonwealth and the Rwandan civil society.
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