The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has warned parliamentary candidates against any form of misconduct that may result into violation of laws.
The NEC chairman, Prof Kalisa Mbanda, issued the warning during a meeting with all the parliamentary candidates ahead of the campaigns scheduled to begin Monday, August 26.
“Ensure you avoid any acts of malice and corrupting voters. There are strict punitive measures against anyone who will violate campaign rules,” said Mbanda.
He pointed out that for campaigns to be conducted smoothly, candidates should ensure that the ultimate goal of their manifesto is nation building.
“Any form of campaign that incites divisionism won’t be tolerated,” Mbanda added.
He also warned against use of State resources during campaigns.
The punitive measures include receiving warning from NEC and cancelation of one’s candidature if the act is repeated.
The September polls will see close to six million Rwandans vote 80 parliamentarians. Among those to be elected include 53 lawmakers from political parties or independent candidates who will be voted through universal adult suffrage, while the remaining 27 are reserved for special interest groups.
All candidates vying for parliamentary seats, including those seeking to represent women, the youth and persons with disabilities are 410.
Mbanda said that this year’s election will be more competitive since candidates are more prepared than during the previous elections and more conversant with the laws governing elections.
Several aspirants raised concerns over a condition requiring those in public service to suspend their duties during the campaigns, saying they risk losing their jobs.
According to the electoral code, a civil servant or a contracted employee is supposed to suspend work during the campaign period to avoid using their jobs to influence the campaigns.
“Our worries are mainly about the possibility of losing our jobs and yet you are not certain of winning in the elections. This is why we request the government and NEC to find ways of ensuring that those who won’t make it to Parliament get their jobs back,” said Ali Ngaboyisonga who is eyeing the only seat for the disabled.
Several other aspirants shared the same fears. But the NEC boss told journalists, “Their concerns are mainly about the interpretation of the law and the law stipulates suspension of work, not resignation.”