NEC to draw up new women constituencies

•Proportional representation mulledA presidential decree is set to determine new constituencies for women parliamentarians voted by electoral colleges through the National Women Council.
NEC Boss Karangwa.
NEC Boss Karangwa.

A presidential decree is set to determine new constituencies for women parliamentarians voted by electoral colleges through the National Women Council.

The need to revise the constituencies became inevitable after the 2006 territorial administrative reforms which saw the number of provinces reduced from 12to 5, the City of Kigali inclusive.

Rwandans go to polls in September to choose new legislators when the current five-year term comes to an end.

During the 2003 general elections, each province elected two women representatives to occupy the 24 slots set aside for women in the Chamber of Deputies. That arrangement was provided for in the 2003 Constitution.

Now the Head of State will have to consider proposals by the Local Government Ministry and the National Electoral Commission (NEC), to distribute those slots in proportion to the population of people living in the new provinces.

According to a NEC insider, the provinces of Eastern, Western and Southern will have six women MPs each, and that the Northern Province and the City of Kigali, get four and two parliamentary seats respectively.

Asked what criteria was followed to allocate the seats in that manner, the source said the authorities used figures in both last year’s registration for new electronic IDs and the 2002 National Population Census. A similar arrangement will be used during the senatorial elections come 2011, the official added.

"We used a certain software to determine the registered people with voters’ age," the source said. While the minimum age for ID registration was 16, voters must have at least 18 years of age.

The source added that registers for new IDs showed there was an increment of about one million voters this year compared to 2003.

"During the 2003 general elections, there were an estimated 3.8 million voters, but now the figure has risen to almost 4.7 million," he explained.

MPs representing women are elected by electoral colleges composed of delegates drawn from women councils at the cell, district and provincial levels in addition to members of district advisory committees.

Apart from the 24 women parliamentary seats, there are 53 slots to be filled by candidates who will have been fielded by political organizations or independent aspirants.

Other special interest groups are youth (two seats) and one slot for the disabled.

Youth representatives are elected through youth structures right from the grassroots up to the National Youth Council, while the MP representing the disabled is chosen through the Federation of the Associations of the Disabled.

According to the election calendar, the electorate will pick 53 MPs standing on political party or individual tickets on September 15, while the elections for women representatives, youth and the disabled are slated for September 16, 17 and 18, respectively.

Meanwhile, NEC officials are today scheduled to meet with representatives of media outlets with regard to media’s role in ensuring successful elections.

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