By George Kalisa
The observers’ mission leader for the common market for eastern and southern Africa (COMESA) in Rwanda, Betty Bigombe says the aim of the 19-member state bloc was to consolidate the democratization process by making observation to the government and Electoral commission.
Bigombe said the mission maintains the highest standards in elections observation, and its vital tool was the national laws that govern the country.
She added that COMESA observers were looking out for the best practices in Rwanda that could be shared among member states.
“Apart from observing the process with the aim of consolidating the democratisation process by making recommendations to the government and electoral commission, we are also keenly observing the best practices from Rwanda that can be shared with other member states,” Bigombe said.
She added, “With respect to the observation of elections, COMESA prioritises on ensuring that its mission maintains the highest standards with respect to impartiality, comprehensiveness, transparency, accuracy with professionalism, competence and non-interference.”
Bigombe was on Saturday briefing local and international media at Lemigo Hotel in Kigali just two days to parliamentary elections. About 6 million Rwandans will go to the polls on Monday.
She said that her team was impressed by Rwanda’s ability to fund most of its election at a reasonably low cost through use of volunteers to manage the process, saying this information would be useful to the COMESA study on electoral best practices in the region that started in 2011.
Bigombe told the media that she had already dispatched five teams to the four Rwanda’s provinces and Kigali city; saying that consultations with political parties, security sector and the Provincial electoral officers had been completed.
Elections will start on Monday with direct voting for 53 seats; on Tuesday the 24 seats for women while voting for the youth and disabled persons is scheduled for Wednesday. Altogether there are 80 Parliamentary seats to be filled by successful candidates.
The September 2008 Parliamentary elections outcome that favoured women at 56.3 % made Rwanda lead the world in regard to the ratio of women legislators.
In the race are Kagame’s RPF, the Liberal Party, Social Democratic Party and the PS-Imberakuri party.