16 September 2017

Rwanda Poll Was Not Free or Clean, UK Now Claims

Photo: Newtimes
Presidential polls attracted many voters including the elderly.

Over a month after the presidential election in Rwanda, the United Kingdom now claims there were irregularities in ballot counting and the registration process of candidates.

In a statement released on Friday, British ambassador to Rwanda, William Gelling, said that he personally witnessed irregularities that may have undermined the poll.

"I saw irregularities in the counting of ballots and vote tabulation. I know that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is committed to improving the system. I hope that Rwanda will take this opportunity to continue to amend its electoral processes in advance of the 2018 parliamentary elections as part of the democratic journey here," he said.

This was quickly refuted by the Commission.

"He did not report the claims to us so that we can follow up and verify. We met several ambassadors and talked about those but they could not be specific," Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of NEC told The EastAfrican.

"None of the other observers including the AU, the civil society and the EAC, has mentioned that. So I do not understand why it is the UK coming up with this now."

Opposition candidates

Mr Gelling also stated that he was encouraged to see broader media coverage of the presidential elections, noting that incidents of obstruction of opposition candidates were addressed rapidly by NEC and the government.

"I was concerned by the lack of clarity in the registration process for candidates which appears to have made it impossible for certain credible candidates to register," he said.

"I am concerned by the arrests and legal challenges in recent weeks. While Rwanda's political situation and recent terrible history is unique, it is concerning to see the targeting of opposition figures," he added.

He also responded to the recent government criticism of envoys who "meddle in the country's affairs", agreeing that diplomats are "rightly" accused of focusing too much on the short term.

More on This

Attacks on Kagame - When Repetition Doesn't Make Perfect

Why do some people keep doing the same thing and getting the same wrong results? It is baffling, yet it happens quite… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2017 The East African. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 700 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.