Rwandans to vote in presidential elections

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

More than 6.8 million Rwandans will on Friday head to the polls to elect a new president.

They will choose between the incumbent President Paul Kagame of the ruling party Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent candidate.

About 6.8 million people will participate in this year's presidential elections, up from 5.7 million who participated in the 2010 presidential elections, according to the National Electoral Commission of Rwanda.  

This year's presidential elections will be the third since the end of the ex-genocidal regime in 1994.

President Kagame gained landslide victories in the last two presidential elections held in 2003 and 2010 by winning 95 percent and 93 percent of the total votes, respectively.

The African Union (AU) has announced that it would deploy an AU election observation mission (AUEOM) to observe the elections.

Headed by Cassam Uteem, former President of Mauritius, the mission comprises of 40 observers drawn from various African countries and AU institutions. The mission will remain in the country until the announcement of final results.

Shortly after the election day, the mission will issue a preliminary statement of its findings at a press conference in Kigali, according to an AU statement.

A final report, including recommendations for improvement of future electoral processes in Rwanda, will be presented at a later stage, after the completion of the entire electoral process, said the statement from the pan-African bloc.

Elections in Kenya

Meanwhile, the AU has also deployed the AUEOM to Kenya to observe the general elections scheduled for 8 August 2017.

The AUEOM is led by South African former president Thabo Mbeki and comprises of 90 Short Term Observers (STOs) and 14 Long Term Observers (LTOs) drawn from the Pan-African Parliament, African Ambassadors to the African Union in Addis Ababa, Election Management Bodies (EMBs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Think Tanks and the Academia from various African countries.

The LTOs are deployed from 3 July – 26 August 2017, while the STOs are deployed from 28 July – 14 August 2017.

The AU said as part of its activities, the AUEOM will meet with various stakeholders in Kenya, including political parties and CSOs. The observers will be deployed throughout the country to observe the pre-election, election day and post-election activities.

“Observations and recommendations of the AUEOM will be based on the credibility, transparency, fairness and the effective organization of the elections,” the AU said on Tuesday.

After the elections, the AUEOM will release its preliminary statement during a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The AUEOM will also produce a more detailed report, including recommendations, within two months after the elections. –