Rwanda Information Portal

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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1 susan phelps { 08.09.10 at 8:29 am }

As we have seen quite clearly in the last months, The Rwandan Poplutation can do nothing else except vote KAGAME because ” THE POPULATION HAS A GUN AT THEIR HEADS ” So what do you do ???? Of course this is how ENGLAND, AMERICA and EUROPE VOTE !!!! ” AND SO FOR DOMOCRACY ” I sincerely HOPE President Obama has the possibility to HELP !!!!

2 Byinshi { 08.12.10 at 2:12 am }

to be sincere, Susan you are liar may be you are saying this to answer your quest for fulfillment of your psychological desire, but there is no truth about this. we do not need a preacher to explain alot about what Rwanda has achieved through the leadership of president Kagame. they are all self explanatory, Rwandans have voted for president kagame simply they know well that one cannot substitute a winning team, they did it out of the their own will. If what you were saying was untrue, we wouldn’t have a landslide votes for Kagame from Diaspora because those of the diaspora are not “under the gun” as you claim.
Rwandan problems will only be solve by Rwandans and not those you run to (OBAMA, UK etc) because Dogs were busy eating the fresh of our people during the Genocide under these guy’s noses. please lets be mature.

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