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FDU reports irregularities in Rwandan elections

By FDU Committee

FDU Committee has issued a press release denouncing irregularities in Rwandan presidential elections.

We Stand Against Voting Irregularities in Rwandan Elections Today

Yesterday 8th August 2010, in many areas of the north and west of Rwanda such as Busasamana, Cyanzarwe, Bugeshi Kanzenze and Nyabihu, the population had their voting cards seized by local authority. They were ordered to show up and collect their cards at poll stations as early as 4 o’clock in the morning. At the poll station, their voting cards were returned to them with “VOTED” stamp mark already on.

Forced Attendance and Night Voting

In areas such as Kivumu, Rusizi and Nyabihu, people were waken up at 1 am and were taken by force to poll stations. Kivumu voters remained at the poll station under surveillance of the local National Election Commission representative, Mr. Philbert Uwimana and started voting at 4 am.

In Gitaba at Kabaya poll station, voting was conducted at night with no voting privacy. The local NEC team headed by Mr. Mbirinde simply stamped voting cards and returned them to voters who then were allowed to return home.

Arbitrary Arrests

Rusizi Police Station arrested local FDU Party Representative to prevent him from resisting or reporting voting irregularities. He was released 9th August in the morning.

In Rusizi, district of Gasebeya, Supervisor of Baveya local poll station, Marie Chantal Mukamutega ordered the arrest of Mr. Fulgence Ngirabareze of Nyakabuye who voted for Presidential Candidate Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo. Fulgence was arrested at poll station by the local Police, was taken in custody at an undisclosed location.

By FDU Committee

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August 9, 2010   2 Comments

High turnout in Rwandan vote for President

Kigali – Rwandans turned out in large numbers to vote in Monday’s presidential election, many leaving home well before daybreak to form neat lines in front of spick and span polling stations.

People strode purposefully under wooden arches set up by the electoral commission to vote in schools decked out in the national colours of green blue and yellow and decorated with banana trees.

Germaine Mutetesi, a housemaid, arrived out of breath to vote in Kigali’s Kimihurura district, insisting she had no time to talk as she had to “get back home for the housework”.

Emmanuel Ndagijimana, a young domestic worker accompanying her and sporting a Las Vegas T-shirt, was also breathless.

“But it’s important to come and choose the president,” he said. Asked which candidate he would choose, he declined give a candidate’s name.

President Paul Kagame, who has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist for 16 years and won the 2003 election with 95% of the vote, faced no serious opposition on Monday and appeared certain of re-election.

But out of a dozen people questioned, nobody would reveal their choice.

“Rwandans are reserved by nature,” commented Francois Byabarumwanzi, campaign manager for the Liberal Party.

Tight security

“It’s a bit difficult to tell you who I’ll vote for,” 18-year-old Richard Hakizimana, voting for the first time at the same centre, said hesitantly. A secondary school student, he dreams of becoming a professional football player.

Rose Uwimana, in her thirties, was queuing up in the dark 45 minutes before polling stations opened at 06:00 (04:00 GMT).

“It’s important for the country so I’ve come very early,” she said, smiling broadly.

Most people went out to vote on foot. The extensive roadworks that have been whipping up clouds of red dust in the capital have all been halted for the day.

A local journalist interviewed from a polling station on Contact FM radio expressed astonishment when asked if there had been “any pushing and shoving” and said no, definitely not.

At Rugunga school where Kagame was due to vote, security was tighter with a scanner set up and a trained dog sniffing into handbags.

Officials appeared bent on proving that Rwanda not only starts voting bang on time, it even completes polling well ahead of time.

Radio commentators speculated many stations would complete polling well before closing time, planned for 15:00 (13:00 GMT).

Hard military dictatorship

State radio reported that at some polling stations in the Western Province, every voter on the registry had cast their ballot in the first hour.

Kagame has been acclaimed for maintaining stability in Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, modernising the economy and turning Kigali into one of the safest and cleanest capitals in Africa.

His critics argue he has achieved that by cracking down on any form of dissent and turning Rwanda into a hard military dictatorship.

A lone voter thought it a pity “the real opposition” was excluded.

“They should have let (Bernard) Ntaganda run. He’d have got maybe 10 percent. They (the RPF) would still have won,” he said, insisting he not be quoted.

Bernard Ntaganda, the founder and chairman of PS Imberakuri, the only real opposition group to have even been allowed to register as a party, was ousted and is currently in prison on charges of “divisionism” and associating with people who pose a threat to national security.

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August 9, 2010   2 Comments