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Brussels, 1 August 2008

European Union deploys Election Observation Mission to Rwanda

The European Commission will deploy an EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) for the legislative elections in Rwanda scheduled to take place on 15 – 18 September 2008. The EU EOM has arrived in the country and is a further contribution by the European Commission to supporting democracy in Rwanda. It will be led by Mr Michael Cashman, Member of the European Parliament.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, said:

These are the second legislative elections since the adoption of the Constitution in June 2003, which put an end to the transition period after the genocide. Successful and credible elections would be a positive contribution to the long term democratic development of the country. Given the importance that the EU attaches to Rwanda and the need for continued efforts to reinforce sustainable democracy there, I have decided to deploy an EU EOM to make a valuable contribution to transparent and credible elections.”

Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid said:

"Rwanda has made remarkable progress in its economic and social development in recent years. Despite this progress, Rwanda still faces the challenge of the reconciliation process, due to the country's legacy of genocide. That's why the EU has been actively engaged in support of good governance, justice reform and the rule of law in Rwanda during that time and will continue to maintain its support for the democratic process during this electoral period."

The EOM Core Team which consists of the Chief Observer and eight experts is already on the ground. 20 Long Term Observers (LTOs) from 15 EU Member States as well as Switzerland and Norway arrived in the country on 29 July to assess all relevant phases of the electoral process including campaigning and complaints procedures. 50 Short Term Observers (STOs) from 26 EU Member States as well as Switzerland and Norway will be deployed over the election period to observe voting, counting and the tabulation of results. They will be joined by locally recruited STOs from diplomatic missions of EU Member States resident in the country. The EU EOM will stay in the country for a number of weeks after the election day in order to assess the post-election period.

EU Election Observation Missions are an important instrument for building confidence in the democratic processes of a country and are deployed in line with the EU’s commitment to promote democracy, human rights and the respect for the rule of law. The EU has made available some €1.8 million from the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), for this mission. In addition, the EC is contributing to the financing of these elections with a total of €1.7 million, which will cover the whole the electoral cycle 2009-2012.

Aside from support for democratization, the main objective of the EC-Rwanda cooperation is poverty reduction. In order to achieve this, the main components of the cooperation programme will be access to basic services, promoting pro-poor growth and rural economic development, and fostering national reconciliation and justice. Across all of these themes, improved governance will be crucial to success. Under the 10th European Development Fund Rwanda receives a total of €290 million for the period 2008–13.

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