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Rwanda: NEC refutes Gelling’s claims over last elections

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It is now one month and half, that British ambassador to Rwanda, William Gelling’s claims there were irregularities in ballot counting and the registration process of candidates, but the National Electoral Commission quickly refuted that.

According to The EastAfrican, the statement released on Friday, said that the ambassador 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.

Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of NEC, immediately disagreed. Talking to The EastAfrican, he said, “He [William Gelling] 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,”

“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.”

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.

Media and opposition candidates

Rwandan media, private and public were actively involved in electoral process, during campaign and were deployed in several districts to cover the August 4th event. Regarding opposition candidates, both were in swearing in ceremonies on August 18th.

During presidential campaign, all candidates had equal rights to media, private and public as well. In remote areas, each candidate was with a considerable team of journalists, in accordance with their capacity: Philippe Mpayimana was with around 5 journalists; Frank Habineza was with 15, while Paul Kagame had more than 60(including some international repporters), all depending on means.

On August 3rd, one day to vote, the Rwandan Media High Council deployed 100 journalists, from private and public media houses. In 8 teams, to cover the whole country: One team in north, based at Musanze); one in south, based at Huye, three in west (Rubavu, Karongi and Rusizi), and three were sent to east (Nyagatare, Bugesera and Kirehe).

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Apart from that, PAXPRESS(Non-governmental organisation) had trained 68 journalists on electoral reporting. These were also sent in all districts of Rwanda, two journalists in each.

On this day, PAXPRESS conducted  three live editions trough synergy on ten private radios, and there each journalist had to call or be called to give the view on field, but none reported irregularities.

Moreover, all journalists (by MHC and PAXPRESS) had to make at least three articles about the vote, to mean a total of 420 articles have been published, but none was about irregularities in counting.

All in all, this is part of what president Kagame called ‘foreigners meddling in local  politics’, while he was swearing in.

He criticised such attempts, in front of his opponents Frank Habineza of Democratic Green Party and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana, as the positive environment made fair vote, to mention Rwandans choice.

“Our experience is that we will be vilified anyway, no matter what. So we might as well do what we know is right for our people, because the results are much better, and the costs are much lower,” said President Kagame.

Inside the country however, neither Habineza nor Mpayimana, their supporters; all have been satisfied with results, without any claim.

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Jean Baptiste Karegeya

 

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