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Polls open as millions stroll towards voting stations

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Kigali: The voting stations opened at 0600 but there were reports from places like Northern and Western suggesting some sectors had finished voting within 20minutes.

A woman going through the voting process at Rugunga station, here in Kigali (Photo: Margaret Cappa)

In most places, reports said there were no lines at all, as voters came in one by one.

The campaign has been criticised by some international watchdogs such as Human Rights Watch, which accuses the Rwandan government of repressing free speech and restricting opposition candidates.

"The candidates have been free to campaign," said the head of the AU's mission, Anil Gayenne, on Sunday, at a press conference. "If they have not been free, then they have not told us that."

Gayenne says it is "obvious to any observer" that Kagame has a massive base of public support.

Observers have to remember Rwanda's recent history, he said.

"We do appreciate that a country that has lived such terrible moments has to go through a period of transition."

Though some sectors have finished voting, the stations will stay open till 1500 – the closing time. And immediately, each station will count the votes in the midst of voters. The results will be posted at the same station.

By 0800, businesses were opening – as people who had long finished casting their votes returned to their normal routines. Public taxis were also working. The motorcycles which most people use to move around, were working.

In rural areas, reports said people in voter lines were smartly dressed in the traditional female and male clothing like they were going for parties.

Some 5.2 million voters will be out there casting their votes at 15.507 stations.

NEC executive Secretary Charles Munyaneza said polls had opened on time and with no problems.



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