Rwandans are voting Monday in a presidential election that opponents of President Paul Kagame denounced as a sham.
President Kagame faces three other candidates believed to have ties to his ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front.
Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of the Rwanda National Electoral Commission (NEC), said his commission is ready for Monday’s vote.
“As I talk right now, it’s only a few hours to elections. We are opening our polls at 6 A.M., and in terms of preparation, we have already delivered the election materials at all polling stations.
Munyaneza said the vote will be free, fair and transparent.
“We are sure that these elections are going to be free and fair because we have put in place everything. We have got the legal framework to make the election free and fair. We have recruited the right people to manage the election. In fact, this is not the first time we are going to do so. We have been on record of delivering (a) free and fair election,” he said.
He denied allegations that some Rwandans might have been forced to attend President Kagame rallies.
“As far as the election campaigns are concerned, we did not get, as the electoral commission, any report to that effect. What we saw is that people are turning out for the campaigns for all the candidates,” he said.
Human rights groups say real opponents to Mr. Kagame have been barred from fielding candidates.
Munyaneza denied that there was a deliberate attempt the exclude opposition candidate Victoire Ingabire, who has been under house arrest.
“I’m not aware whether she is an opposition candidate or if she ever wanted to be an opposition candidate. I know Ingabire and whatever has been happening. But, we are not concerned about whether she is under house arrest, or what. In the electoral commission, we are not concerned about that,” Munyaneza said.
The Rwandan government has also been accused of being behind a series of attacks carried out in recent weeks against opponents of President Kagame.
Jean Leonard Rugambage, the acting editor of the deputy editor of the Umuvugizi newspaper was shot outside his home and died later at a hospital.
But, Justice Minister Karugarama said the allegations are being manufactured by “enemies of the state” and untrue.
“That is really most unfortunate that anybody would make such allegations. In the case of this journalist (Jean Leonard Rugambage), surely there is an investigation that is been carried out. There have been arrests, people have admitted an offense. The matter is before a court of law,” Karugarama said.
He also denied the government was behind the brutal murder of Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, vice president of the opposition Green Party.
“Why should anybody really want a deputy of the Green Party killed and killed by (the) government, especially at this point in time when Rwanda is the focus of all the news media in the world? Everybody (who) has ax to grind with Rwanda is out to find fault with Rwanda.”
General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former ally of President Paul Kagame, who fled to South Africa, narrowly survived an attempted assassination in South Africa.
Karugarama also denied the Rwandan government was behind the attempt on General Nyamwasa’s life.
“I think the government spokesperson has talked a lot of about General Kayumba. The prosecutor-general of this country has talked a lot about it. The Rwandan minister of foreign affairs has explained there is an investigation going on in South Africa by a competent authority. Why don’t we give the South African police investigative machinery the chance to investigate and tell us what happened?” Karugarama said.