EU rules out elections observers for August polls in Rwanda

08:31, May 19, 2010      

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The European Commission Delegation in Kigali said no observers will be coming from Brussels to monitor the presidential polls in August because there is no money, Rwanda News Agency reported on Tuesday.

"This is due to a large number of other observation missions in other countries this year in Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, etc.) on a limited budget," said Ms. Esther Tidjani, a spokesperson of the Kigali Delegation.

However, in mid-June, the EU will send election experts to help the block's embassies and missions to organize their own observation plans.

The team of experts could support the National Electoral Commission "if it so desires," according to the Kigali delegation.

"In addition, we will train local observers, and coordinate with the Commonwealth observer mission," said Tidjani.

The announcement comes just a week after the EU and Rwanda signed a 73.8 million euros grant agreement -- a package which includes 5.3 million euros for the Electoral Commission.

Just after the end of the 2003 presidential polls where President Paul Kagame scooped more than 95 percent, the 34 EU observers severely criticized the vote saying it was not necessary.

The block did not also give the government any single cent for the poll -- prompting a campaign in which the population was encouraged to make individual contributions. Over the past years, the EU has turned out to be the biggest money-purse for the authorities.

The EU did observe the 2008 parliamentary polls which they gave mixed approval.



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