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EU Observers Report Rwanda Election Irregularities - 2003-08-27

Election observers from the European Union say they found a number of irregularities in Rwanda's presidential elections, held Monday.

The head of the EU observer mission, Colette Flesch, told reporters that, in her words, optimal conditions for free and fair elections were probably not met in the Rwanda presidential election.

Incumbent President Paul Kagame won 95 percent of the vote. His main rival, Faustin Twagiramungu, declared he would contest the results in Rwanda's Supreme Court, citing examples of harassment and intimidation.

The European Union says it found numerous irregularities, including voter intimidation by Kagame supporters, ballot-box stuffing and fictitious voter lists. It said its observers were not welcome at many stations.

But Ms. Flesch said the election overall was an important step for democracy in the central African country. This was the first presidential election in Rwanda since the genocide of 1994, in which Hutu extremists killed up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.