The European Union will not send any observer mission to monitor elections in Rwanda, where the constitutional one month campaigns begin early July.
The tiny Central Africa country goes to the polls on August 4, and in a closed-door meeting last week the EU envoy to Rwanda Michael Ryan told the National Electoral Commission (NEC) that for the second time, the body would not send any observers due to ‘lack of funds’. The meeting was also attended by ambassadors from Germany, UK, France and Belgium.
The EU did not send a team in the previous elections of 2010, and says that unlike an observer mission which assesses the credibility of an election, an expert mission assesses the potential political, social, media and economic risks before the polls and examines likely interventions.
“We are not sending any formal observer missions to the August elections. We don’t see the need and have limited resources. There are many elections in the world and we have to decide where to put our resources,” Mr Ryan was quoted as saying.
In 2015, the EU, one of Rwanda’s largest donors, was critical of the 2015 Referendum that postponed the application of presidential term limits.
However, the Rwanda NEC boss Kalisa Mbanda said any bodies wishing to observe the country’s elections would be invited for accreditation next month.
“Our thoughts are that there will be no surprises in Rwanda. It has nothing to do with the fact that we disagreed with the referendum,” Mr Ryan was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the EU has announced it will send an expert mission to Kenya ahead of the elections also scheduled for August.
Kenya is considered a flashpoint and following the December 2002 elections the country descended into chaos in which over 1300 people were killed.
Meanwhile, according to a December 2016 survey, 70 per cent of the Kenyans fear that violence may again erupt during elections this year.