Rwanda: Observers Gently Criticize Govt Over Election

11 August 2010

Large numbers of Rwandan voters turned out to vote in a peaceful election in which candidates enjoyed freedom of movement and assembly, but "some limits" were placed on freedom of association and participation, says a report by Commonwealth observers.

In the report, Salim Ahmed Salim, who chaired the Commonwealth Observer Group, called for "more space for open, responsible debate" among politicians and in the media in the future.

"We understand the terrible legacy of the past and the consequent caution as the country moves forward," Salim said. "However, we are also cognisant as to what is required for Rwanda to forge ahead as a pluralistic democracy, enjoying the associated freedoms and rights.

"Many freedoms and rights are provided for in the existing legal framework, but there remain problems in the implementation and practice ..."

Salim added that the fact that all four candidates in the presidential election were from the governing coalition "meant there was a lack of critical opposition voices." The exclusion of opposition parties, who had faced "either legal or administrative problems," was "a concern."

Read the full statement.

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