EXCLUSIVE: EAC Tips Rwanda On Electoral Systems

treatment geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 200%;”>In a statement seen by Chimpreports on Friday morning, dosage the EAC Election Observer Mission that oversaw the Rwanda Parliamentary polls between September 16 and 18, noted that while the electoral campaigns, slated for 20 days, were generally peaceful and celebratory, the dominance by the ruling party and its coalition members was apparent.

“Other political parties and independent candidates were generally thin on the ground. In our interaction with some stakeholders, the EAC observers were informed that some voters had no or limited knowledge of the candidates on the different party-lists,” said Musa Sirma, the Mission Leader.

He said the campaign was notably devoid of issue-based debates in order to meaningfully offer options to the electorate.

The mission therefore recommended that the country sustains the holding of continuous and inclusive dialogue among political stakeholders to encourage pluralism of opinions and consensus on electoral processes.

The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) secured a landslide 76 percent of the vote, scooping 40 of the 53 seats in the polls that ended on Monday.


EAC observers said while significant reforms have been made in the current electoral law such as making voter registration a civil responsibility rather than mandatory, increasing the number of electorate to elect Women Members of Parliament, the Mission noted a contradiction in the electoral law with particular regard to the conduct of election observation.

The electoral law provides for election observers, both citizen and international as well as representatives of political parties and independent candidates “to have free access to where all electoral operations are conducted….”

EAC said while this legal safeguard is indeed critical to ensuring transparency of the electoral process, the provision for observers to only observe in specific areas that they have been accredited is restrictive and poses the risk of compromising the transparency of the process.

The Mission said measures should be taken to amend the restrictive provision in the electoral law to allow “flexibility in movement of observers and also encourage domestic observation to enhance ownership of the electoral process as well as the outcome thereof, by the citizens.”

The poll monitors further advised that concerted efforts should be made to sensitise political parties and citizens in general on the importance of poll watching.

“Where possible, participation through volunteerism should be encouraged as in the case of polling clerks. NEC should ensure that accredited political party and independent candidates’ agents have proper identification while carrying out poll watching,” added Musa.


Regarding lack of serial numbers on ballots papers, EAC observers said as a standard safeguard measure, ballot papers for all elective posts should be serialised to minimise the susceptibility of manipulation.

It also encouraged the bolstering of efforts on ensuring continuous civic and voter education by all relevant stakeholders should be enhanced.

Citing lack of comprehensive coverage of the polls by the local media, EAC observers said measures should be taken to “encourage responsive and proactive journalism in the electoral process, while abiding by the code of conduct for the media” and that “the Media Self-regulatory Board should be supported to establish and build its capacity.”

The Mission also noted the insignificant presence of domestic observers and political party agents during both polling and counting processes.

“While the agents of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its coalition were present in all stations observed, those of independent candidates and opposition parties were either absent or roaming in polling stations. The agents at the polling stations were not easily identifiable,” said Musa.

He added: “Although the absence of party agents in most polling stations could increase the susceptibility to manipulation, the Mission did not observe such vice in these polls.”

Musa said there was general lack of clarity on how the results are transmitted from the polling stations to the national tallying centre.

“Even though no complaints were raised on this aspect, clear understanding of the results tallying and transmission mechanism enhances the openness and transparency of the process. Measures should be undertaken to ensure the transparency of the tallying and transmission of the results to the national tallying centre.”

In his conclusive remarks, Musa commended the people of Rwanda for their “peaceful conduct” during the elections and also encouraged the sustenance of the institutionalised culture of dialogue by ensuring that it is as inclusive as possible as this remains key for the consolidation of democracy in Rwanda.

“The fact that Rwanda is the only state in Eastern Africa to have ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance presents optimism on the future of democracy in the country. Despite some challenges, the Mission is of the general view that the 16-18 September 2013. Parliamentary elections were conducted in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework of Rwanda and the outcome reflects the will of the people of Rwanda,” elaborated Musa.

The Mission urged all parties who may be “aggrieved to pursue legally established channels to resolve any disputes that may arise relating to the outcome of these elections.”

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