Rwanda ruling party sweeps parliamentary poll

Tuesday September 4 2018

Rwanda parliamentary elections

A Rwandan casts his vote at the Rwandan Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on September 2, 2018. President Paul Kagame's party is expected to win the majority seats in parliament. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG 

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Independent candidates' hope to clinch a seat in Rwanda's Parliament has dwindled after the electoral commission announced initial poll results.

The ruling RPF-Inkotanyi party has taken an early lead as the results from the Monday parliamentary elections streamed in.

With over 70 per cent of the votes counted, President Paul Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front has bagged 75 per cent of the ballots cast.

RPF's traditional allies, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and Liberal Party (PL) have garnered 8.5 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, of the results announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), the country's only registered opposition party, and Social Party Imberakuri (PS Imberakuri) both tie with 4.5 per cent of the votes tallied.

Prof Kalisa Mbanda, the NEC chairman, said RPF was poised for a comfortable win.

“There is a possibility of all political parties going above the required 5 per cent when the remaining 30 per cent of votes are counted but for now we are seeing RPF lead with a big margin,” he said.

“On the other hand, independent candidates did not perform well and it is highly unlikely that any of them will meet the 5 per cent threshold even after counting the remaining votes,” he added.

Ballot glitch

The independents include former presidential candidate Philippe Mpayimana and Janvier Nsengiyumva whose name on the ballot paper was different.

Mr Nsengiyumva argued that calling him “Nsengimana” instead of Nsengiyumva could have cost him votes.

However, NEC said all the votes cast for “Janvier Nsengimana” will be counted as Nsengiyumva’s instead of invalidating them.

The Greens and PS Imberakuri hope to attain the 5 per cent threshold required to win a parliamentary seat.

“We are confident that when the remaining votes are counted, we will get over 5 per cent which we need to have a seat in Parliament,” the Greens president Frank Habineza said.

Earlier, Mr Habineza had told The EastAfrican that his party had experienced challenges during the poll.

"We experienced some problems in Musanze District where our observers were denied to observe the elections. We talked to NEC about this and the issue was resolved," Mr Habineza said.

Charles Munyaneza, the executive secretary of NEC said he had been informed of the matter.

"Mr Habineza notified NEC of this challenge... the issue was however resolved as soon as reported and they were able to carry out their observation duties," he said.

About 7.2 million Rwandans were expected to vote compared to 6 million in the 2013 parliamentary polls.

Women and youth councils voted on Tuesday for their respective representatives in the final day of the poll.

The ruling party clinched nearly all the diaspora votes and is expected to match the 76.2 per cent majority seats it held in the last parliament.