A group of election observers representing the African Union (AU) has been dispatched to Rwanda to oversee the process leading up to next week's presidential elections.
According to a statement issued on Thursday by the AU, the mission in Kigali is being led by Anil Gayan, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mauritius.
It will include Pan-African parliamentarians and top officials of election management bodies. The team of 20 members and three coordinators will be in Rwanda until August 14 when the results are expected to have been collated and provisionally announced.
"The principal task of the Observer Mission is to make an independent and impartial observation of the Rwanda electoral process in conformity with AU guidelines on election observation and monitoring and guided by the AU Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa," said the statement.
The AU observers are to be deployed to all the country's five provinces. The AU observer team joins another from the Commonwealth, which arrived early this week.
The latter team consists of 13 eminent persons among them diplomats, heads of electoral commissions, lawyers and media experts from Commonwealth member states.
Meanwhile, South Africa has recalled its ambassador to Kigali following a diplomatic row over the shooting of an exiled Rwandan army general in Johannesburg, the foreign ministry said Thursday.
"We have recalled our ambassador to Rwanda for consultations. Let me be categorical. We have not broken diplomatic relations with Rwanda," foreign ministry director general Ayanda Ntsaluba told a news conference.
The move is traditionally the strongest indication of official disapproval short of severing diplomatic relations.
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