Democracy caravan urges Rwandans to vote
As the world celebrated the 2013 International Day of Democracy, the One UN and the Government of Rwanda organized a Democracy caravan. On the day before the national parliamentary elections, the caravan went through the city of Kigali, calling upon citizens to turn up to the polling stations in big numbers. The caravan delivered key messages aiming at increasing awareness on elections and encouraging people to vote for the new members of Parliament.
The caravan was flagged off by the Minister of Local Government, Honorable James Musoni, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Lamin Momodou Manneh. “Citizens would have the opportunity to strengthen their voices for Democracy on the 16th-18th September by choosing the new members of Parliament”, said Minister Musoni, recalling the importance of citizens to express their voices through the votes.
Coming to the theme of the day, “strengthening voices for democracy" which aims to raising the importance of people’s voices in shaping their future, the caravan spread the messages on the importance of citizens to express their voices through the legislative elections planned for the following day. “Rwandan citizens have to think about how they can use their voice to not only take control of their destiny, but to translate their desires and the desires of others into a better future for all”, said Mr. Lamin Manneh, citing the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in his message on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy for 2013.
Well-known local music celebrities such as Knowless, The Dream Boys, Riderman, and Jay Polly, took part in the celebration which attracted crowds of all ages. They sung to local communities in the most densely populated neighborhoods of Kigali and then encouraged them to vote during the upcoming parliamentary elections.
At every caravan stop, the celebrities did not only sing the most liked songs, but also read messages from the National Electoral Commission, inviting all citizens at the age of voting to go the polls the next day and cast their votes to elect their representatives.
“Come all to the polls with your identity and electoral registration cards” was one of the main messages. From taxi drivers to the shop owners, from students to young people on the streets, football fans and motorcycle riders, all joined the celebrities for a moment of dance and celebration. Stop after stop, the caravan conveyed the message on democracy and elections. To the calls by the celebrities to turn up to the polling stations the next day, the crowds responded in unison, ‘Yes, we will vote!”.
Targeting the highly populated areas such as Gisozi and Nyamirambo suburbs, the caravan also passed by the Nyabugogo bus station and the Kigali Stadium where the crowds gathered and were sensitized on democracy day and entertained. From 10.30 AM in the morning to 05.30 PM, the caravan covered more than 50 kilometers around the city, mobilizing the citizens around their rights to express their choices through democratic and fair elections.
In a country still recovering from the 1994 genocide, the people and their leadership are the drivers for strengthening democracy. Active participation in the elections is a fundamental human right and an opportunity for the populace to choose their leaders who will work to ensure that their needs and aspirations are taken into account.
According to the National Electoral Commission more than six million voters have been registered including voters from the diaspora. Such a large number of registered voters is yet another sign that Rwanda has achieved another milestone in the democratization process.
This unique event was jointly organized by the Government of Rwanda under the auspices of the Ministry of Local Government, the Rwanda Governance Board, the National Electoral Commission and the One UN in Rwanda.