The New Times (Kigali)

21 September 2013

East Africa: Comesa Commends Parliamentary Polls

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) elections observation team has endorsed the just concluded parliamentary elections, saying they were free and fair.

The mission was on Thursday presenting its preliminary report on the polls that ended on Wednesday, during a news briefing.

"The mission is satisfied that the election campaigns were conducted in a generally peaceful and tolerant atmosphere, no incidents of violence or intimidation were brought to our attention," noted the head of the team, Betty Bigombe, the Vice Chairperson of the Comesa committee of elders.

"We commend The National Electoral Commission (NEC), for availing adequate voting materials in all polling stations visited. And for putting in place a decentralised structure that reached the grass roots", she added.

The team also praised political parties that participated in the polls, for focusing more on programmes during campaigns, than using of inflammatory language against each other, as is the case in some countries.

However, the team also mentioned that some areas needed improvement, like the need to involve Civil Society Organisations in civic education of the electorate ahead of polls.

The report follows that of the African Union (AU) and East African Community missions, which also commended the elections.

The parliamentary elections saw a coalition dominated by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) collect a convincing 76.22 per cent victory, retaining majority seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

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