Rwandans Vote in Free Election
Mar. 30, 1999
KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ Fifty members of a Christian sect that believes local elections mark the end of the world were reportedly arrested Tuesday, but Rwanda's first vote since its 1994 genocide was peaceful elsewhere.
Overcoming the divisions that fostered a 90-day slaughter of minority Tutsis by majority Hutus in 1994, Rwandans voted for candidates to choose 14 local representatives.
The election began Monday, but was delayed in some areas because of torrential rains.
Authorities arrested 50 members of the religious sect in Mutura, 60 miles northwest of Kigali, the private Rwanda News Agency said. They were charged with disrupting the vote. The name of the religious group was not given.
Voting continued without problem in other parts of the country, said Protease Musoni, secretary-general of the Ministry of Local Government. Some 3.5 million eligible voters took part. Rwanda has a population of 7.2 million.
The representatives will handle tax collection, pay teachers and doctors and administer health and education in their home areas.
The government hopes the electoral process will foster grassroots democracy and reconciliation among the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis and will shift attention toward rebuilding this Central African country.
Mutura Mayor Joseph Mpumoro told the news agency that 50 sect members were detained after they urged voters to leave the polling station, warning them the world was coming to an end.
Musoni could confirm only one arrest was made.