Rwanda: Observers Urged to Be Impartial During Elections

Photo: New Times
A National Electoral Commission employee loads a truck with materials and equipment that will be used during the parliamentary elections.

Election observers should be neutral and objective as they monitor parliamentary polls due to take place from September 2 to 4.

The call was made Thursday by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) while briefing over 950 observers who have been accredited to assess election activities. They include 184 foreign observers.

Over 7.1 million Rwandans have registered to vote for their representatives in parliament for a five-year-term.

Although observers enjoy the right to unfettered access to electoral processes, there are basic rules that guide them, said Loyce Bamwine, a commissioner at NEC as she was presenting election observers' code of ethics.

"Election observers should maintain strict political impartiality during the observation period," she reminded them.

Other guidelines that observers should adhere to, include refraining from announcing election results before their publication by NEC.

The National Electoral Commission stated that it is the observers' responsibility to compile election reports, but, that such a practice should abide by governing by laws for it to benefit everyone.

The observers should also produce a report on their election assessment not later than 60 days after election has taken place.

Dr Otiende Amollo, Senior Partner at Rachier & Amollo Advocates - a law firm in Kenya wondered how NEC would monitor elections in diplomatic missions to ensure that no mischief is caused in the tallying process.

Replying to Amollo's concerns, Bamwine said that the diplomatic missions were ready to ensure that elections are conducted in a free and fair environment, revealing that NEC has been monitoring elections through embassies and that no case had been reported so far, and such is neither expected in this forthcoming election.

Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, NEC Chairperson, said that some political parties and independent candidates have provided observers, while others have not yet.

However, he pointed out that the number might increase.

"Some of them tell us that they trust us (the National Electoral Commission)," Mbanda said while giving the reasons why some of the candidates have not yet provided observers.

A total of 521 candidates are contesting for parliamentary seats, including 318 from political parties and four independent candidates. These are all vying for 53 seats in the Lower House.

Elections in various categories

179 female candidates are competing the 24 seats reserved for women in an election which will take place on September 4. About 26 young candidates are vying for two seats to represent youth and 10 candidates are fighting for one seat reserved for people with disability.

Appealing election results is allowed within five days after results are announced.

NEC releases provisional results on the same day of the poll.

The final results of the vote are expected to be released not later than September 16, 2018.

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