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Rwanda's Electoral Commission Rejects EU Findings - 2003-08-29

Rwanda's electoral commission has rejected findings of European Union observers that there were a number of irregularities and fraud in the country's recent presidential election.

The head of Rwanda's National Electoral Commission, Chrisologue Karangwa, accuses EU election observers of being biased in favour of Faustin Twagiramungu, the leading rival to President Paul Kagame.

"What is said in their report comes from Mr. Twagiramungu's office," he said.

Mr. Karangwa maintains that the August 25 election, which saw Mr. Kagame capture 95 percent of the vote, was free and fair.

On Wednesday, the head of the EU's observer mission, Colette Flesch, told reporters that, while the presidential election was an important step for democracy in the central African country, it could not be called free and fair.

The EU says it found numerous irregularities, including voter intimidation by Mr. Kagame's supporters, ballot box stuffing, and fictitious voter lists.

But Mr. Karangwa disputes these observations, saying that EU observers were making what he called political rather than electoral observations.

"Their political observations were not based on real proof," said Chrisologue Karangwa.

Monday's presidential election was the first in Rwanda since the genocide of 1994, in which Hutu extremists killed up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.