Rwandans living in Kenya voted in the country's parliamentary elections on Sunday.
The polling station at the Rwandan Embassy in Gigiri, Nairobi, opened its doors as early as 6am. The Rwandans living in diaspora, were led during the exercise by their High Commissioner to Kenya Ambassador James Kimonyo.
The exercise - known as 'Amatora', is a precursor to the main parliamentary elections set for September 3. The exercise drew a large number of the Rwandan community living in Kenya. The country's former Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema, now a member of East Africa Legislative Assembly also cast his vote on Sunday.
"We had higher numbers during the presidential election last year but we are expecting not less than 2, 000 people to vote. By 6pm, we will know the voter turnout. I was here as early as 6am where we witnessed high numbers that included even members of Rwanda U-20 volleyball team," said Mr Kimonyo on Sunday.
DIFFERENT TIME ZONES
Ambassador Kimonyo explained that Rwandans in the diaspora are allowed to vote a day before the main election because of the different time zones involved.
He said there are five political parties taking part in this year's elections including the ruling party Rwandan Patriotic Front, Social Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Rwanda Democratic Green Party and PS-Imberakuri, together with four independents.
"The law provides for members of Rwandan community living across the world to participate in this democratic process. We have two polling stations in Kenya, main one in Nairobi and the other in Mombasa conducting the parliamentary elections," said the Ambassador.
He pointed out that this is the fourth parliamentary election in the East African country since the adoption of a new Constitution in 2003. The elections are held after every five years. The first polls were held in 2003.
24 SEATS FOR WOMEN
Mr Kimonyo said that the Rwandan Parliament consists of 80 seats, out of which 30 per cent (24 seats) are reserved for women. Two seats for the youth, while one seat is reserved for people living with disability. This means that only 53 are up for grabs for the different political parties contesting in the elections.
He explained that after casting of the ballots, the polling stations will close, before the ballot boxes are kept in a secure place.
The counting of the votes will begin on Monday at 3pm before the numbers are relayed to the national electoral commission in Kigali.