Rwanda: Police Ask Public to Stay Calm, Vigilant During Election Season

Photo: New Times
Donatile Mukabalisa, the Liberal Party president, assured Rwandans that her party will give a special attention on empowering administrative organs at the grassroots level.

Rwandans need to take extra precautions during the on-going parliamentary election period to ensure that the campaigns and subsequent polls are conducted in an environment that is free and secure.

The message was delivered yesterday by the Rwanda National Police spokesperson, Commissioner of Police Theos Badege, in an exclusive interview with The New Times.

Badege warned against too much excitement during the election season that may lead to some people forgetting to respect traffic rules and uphold security measures designed to ensure that people are safe at campaign rallies.

"We need crime-free elections. We want to conduct elections in a free and secure environment," he said, urging Rwandans to remain sensitive to security matters during the campaign and elections.

Among the things to be avoided by citizens, the officer said, is to overload cars with supporters during the campaign process and trying to transport people in cars that are not meant for passenger transportation such as trucks.

He also warned against overworking drivers during the election campaigns and said that drivers need time to rest in order to avoid accidents. Badege warned motorists against drink driving or use of cars in poor mechanical conditions.

"Some people tend to think that traffic rules loosen a bit during election season but it's actually the other way around. During elections we actually have to tighten traffic rules," Badege said.

The officer also warned citizens against defamation during the electoral period, explaining that the practice may cause commotion at places where electoral activities take place.

Rwandans are also warned that it is during times such as the electoral period that they need to be more vigilant about keeping their properties safe because criminals may take advantage of an environment where everyone is distracted and try to steal or damage other people's property.

Nevertheless, the Police spokesperson said that the Rwanda National Police is ready to maintain security during the on-going parliamentary campaigns, working with different leaders in communities and deploying more police officers and material resources.

"We are ready to maintain security during this election period. Election related excitement can often be a challenge but we need to manage it," he said, also urging Rwandans to keep educating themselves about election rules and regulations to ensure their safety.

He said he was confident that the parliamentary elections will be incident-free based on the history of how Rwandans peacefully conduct elections.

"The elections will run safely and smoothly," he said.

Parliamentary elections are slated for September 2-4, while campaigns started yesterday and will run through September 2.

Some 7.1 million Rwandans are registered to vote for the MPs who will represent them in the Lower House in what will be the country's fourth democratically elected parliament since the end of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

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