- STATEMENT OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY ELECTORAL OBSERVATION MISSION ON THE RWANDA CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM OF 18/12/2015 BASED ON FINDINGS BY CIVIL SOCIETY OBSERVERS
For the second time after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans have elected a new Constitution based on the 2003 Constitution as amended to date. In general, the Constitutional Referendum elections prepared based on people’s demand were conducted on 18/12/2015 in calm, secure, free and fair mood.
Civil Society organizations have among their roles and responsibilities to act as advocates of the people in development agendas that affect the lives of the population, and promote democratic values and principles. In this regard, the Civil Society Platform in conjunction with its members and structures have deployed 473 short-term Observers, 30 Long-Term Observers, and 12 Core-Team members (515 observers in total) in order to carry out electoral observation countrywide, present in 303 sectors and 398 polling stations. The civil society observers conducted their electoral observation activities in a professional manner based on instruction as issued by the National Electoral Commission and International Standards on democratic elections.
This constitutional referendum was conducted on 17/12/2015 for Rwandans living in Diaspora, and on 18/12/2015 for Rwandans living in Rwanda based on the 04/06/2003 Constitution modifications as were demanded by more than 3.7 million of Rwandans and received by the Parliament of Rwanda. This referendum is also organized based and in line with the electoral law n027/2010 of 19/06/2010 and amended to date, and the Presidential Order n0112/01 of 09/12/2015 that determines the date and the object of the Referendum, as well as the National Electoral Commission’s Instructions on election n0 04/2015 of 10/12/2015 that provide the proceedings of the 2015 constitutional referendum.
In general, the following are the broad picture of what civil society observes came up with:
• The constitutional referendum election started on time, the turn up was high, and in general the closure was on time as provided for by the law and instructions;
• Elections were conducted in a calm atmosphere, were seed to generally free and fair, and security was ensured;
• The staff of the National Electoral Commission were supportive and carrying out their duties professionally during the elections;
• Electoral materials were provided to the polling station on time;
• The polling rooms provided enough security for voters to elect in independence;
• Other observers were present on various sites (international and local observers);
• Media freedom was ensured;
• Civil society observers were facilitated to carry out their mission as observer, by getting appropriate accreditations, and observing electoral processes on sites;
While commending the how the constitutional referendum elections were well prepared and organized on the ground in general, some issues are worth mentioning here as observed in some polling stations:
• Some National Electoral Commission Staff refused sharing some key data with our observers( kibungo sector, etc);
• Some civil society observers were not allowed entry to some of the consolidation rooms (Nyanza, Huye- Ngoma Ecole autonome, sector of Tumba-site Kibondo, Ruhango);
• Some electoral matierials were either not sufficient or came late to the site (Nyanza-busasamana-kavumu site, Kicukiro- site EP Kinunga: Site of St Andre, site ya kamuhanga, cyahafi, etc);
• The time for preparation of the constitutional referendum was not sufficient for civil society organizations to be well prepared for observatory activities.
These issues presented here are minor that can be improved in future, compared to the way the constitutional referendum elections were prepared and conducted in a professional way. So, as civil society organizations in Rwanda, we find that the constitutional referendum elections were free and fair, and commend the efforts by the Parliament and the Government of Rwanda to respond to the People’s demands in this regard.
Done at Kigali, on 19/12/2015
Chief Observer, on behalf of
The Civil Society Electoral Observation Mission (CSEOM)