4 August 2017

Rwandans in Kenya Vote in Record Numbers

Photo: The New Times
A voter exercises his constitutional right (file photo).

Members of Rwandan community in Kenya turned up in record numbers to exercise their constitutional right to vote as Rwandans in Diaspora across the globe cast their vote in presidential election yesterday.

According to officials at the Rwandan High Commission in Nairobi, about 50 people were already at embassy premises as early as 5:30am ready to exercise their civic right.

'Jubilant atmosphere'

Addressing the media during the voting process, Rwanda's High Commissioner to Kenya, James Kimonyo, said the voting process in the two designated polling stations of Nairobi and Mombasa was conducted in a jubilant atmosphere and without any hitch.

"Our two polling stations in Nairobi and Mombasa were supposed to open by 7am but because there was a big number of people who wanted to cast their vote early and go to work, we sought permission from electoral commission to open an hour earlier," he said.

Kimonyo said they were overwhelmed by the big numbers of people "we did not expect to show up in the early hours, in drizzling and chilly weather, fired up to vote."

The massive turnout included voters from all age groups, including senior citizens in late eighties, middle age and youngsters.

"It is so fascinating to see people of this age coming to vote at this early hour of the morning. I find this to be the deepest reflection of how patriotic Rwandans are," Irene Wambui, a Kenyan, said.

Turn for the better

Reflecting on Rwanda's past, Amb. Kimonyo said that giving Rwandans abroad the opportunity to exercise their civic right is a sign of commitment to keeping the people of Rwanda united and working towards a common destiny.

"We all know that not so long ago millions of Rwandans were living in exile because people in power then deprived them the right to live in their motherland and they were denied the opportunity to exercise their voting right," he said.

"The new leadership not only opened doors for all Rwandans to return to their country but also allowed Rwandans the opportunity to participate in all democratic processes, including electing their leaders."

Some of the voters expressed their satisfaction about how they are now able to exercise their democratic duty even far away from home.

Jonas Habumuremyi, who has lived in Kenya for over two decades, said: "This is an immense opportunity to give my contribution as I look to be part of the transformation path that my fellow Rwandans decided to take. I would have had to travel home to exercise my civic right, but I am now able to vote from Nairobi and carry on with my business."

Over 3,000 Rwandans in Kenya registered to vote in this year's presidential election. By press time, more than 99 per cent of them had already exercised their voting right.

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