IN­SIDE

The East African - - NEWS - By IVAN R. MUGISHA The Eastafrican

RWANDA POLL WASN’T ALL THAT NICE, SAYS UK

Over a month after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the UK claims there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in bal­lot count­ing and the reg­is­tra­tion process of can­di­dates.

OVER A month after the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Rwanda, the United King­dom now claims there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in bal­lot count­ing and the reg­is­tra­tion process of can­di­dates.

In a state­ment re­leased on Fri­day, Bri­tish am­bas­sador to Rwanda, Wil­liam Gelling, said that he 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.

This was quickly re­futed by the Com­mis­sion. “He 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,” Charles Munyaneza, ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tary of NEC told The Eastafrican.

“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.

“I am con­cerned by the ar­rests and le­gal chal­lenges in re­cent weeks. While Rwanda’s po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion and re­cent ter­ri­ble his­tory is unique, it is con­cern­ing to see the tar­get­ing of op­po­si­tion fig­ures,” he added

He also re­sponded to the re­cent gov­ern­ment crit­i­cism of en­voys who “med­dle in the coun­try’s af­fairs”, agree­ing that diplo­mats are “rightly” ac­cused of fo­cus­ing too much on the short term.

Pic­ture: File

Wil­liam Gelling, the Bri­tish am­bas­sador to Rwanda.

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