A guide to Monday polls: What you need to know

Voters on a queue during past elections. File.

From September 2-4, Rwandans will head to the polls to decide who to represent them in the lower chamber of parliament. Below, we bring you some of the things that you need to know about these elections.

Who is eligible to vote?

Anyone who is 18 years old, and is a registered voter.

Who is not eligible to vote?

Anyone who has been stripped of the voting rights by the courts of law is not eligible to vote. Generally, all prisoners are not allowed to vote. In addition to that, anyone who was convicted of murder as well as anyone who has been convicted for genocide or other crimes against humanity.

Anyone who has been convicted of rape or defilement

Others include people with a proven record of mental illness and refugees.

This is the school season, where can student eligible voters cast their vote?

Students can exercise their voting rights where they registered during the updating of the voters’ lists.

How will the National Electoral Commission facilitate the visually impaired to cast their vote?

The visually impaired will be facilitated to cast their vote individually using the braille system. However, those who may not want to use braille are also allowed to use the help of anyone who is not below 14 but not yet 18 years old.

What time does voting begin and end?

General elections will kick off at 7am and close at 3pm. The elections for the special categories of women, youth and people with disabilities are scheduled to kick off at 10am if at least half of the voters are available and close at 3pm.

How is voting conducted?

Altogether, the lower chamber of parliament is made up of 80 MPs. Of these, 53 candidates are voted for in the general elections where parties and independent candidates compete for these seats. Additionally, there are special categories—women with 24 seats, two seats for the youth and one seat for people with disabilities.

Unlike the general elections, members of parliament are voted for by an electoral college composed of the Executive Committee of the National Women Council drawn from the council’s Provincial and Kigali City level, the district level, sector level, cell and village levels. They will be joined by the district advisory council of the voting districts.

In total, the voters will be expected to pick two candidates to represent Kigali, four to represent Northern Province, and six candidates for each of Eastern, Western and Southern provinces. Countrywide. There are 179 women candidates.

The youth candidates are voted for by Executive Committees of the National Youth Council on national and district levels.

The voting process to pick the candidate representing those with disabilities is done by the Executive Committee of the National Council of People with Disabilities on the national, provincial, district and the council coordinators on the sector level.  

How many people have registered to vote?

In total 7.1 million people have registered to vote. This represents nearly 60 per cent of the country’s estimated population of 12 million people.  

It must be quite costly to organise an election. How much will the Monday elections cost?

The parliamentary elections are expected to cost an estimated Rfw6bn.

What is the criteria for one to be a candidate?

Anyone who is at least 21 years old by the time of the elections. He or she must be a person of integrity. They must not be legally barred from voting.

Who is a person of integrity?

A person of integrity is anyone who has never been convicted of genocide, one who has never been found guilty of segregation and sectarianism, anyone who has never been sentenced to a period of six months or more in jail, not found guilty of genocide ideology, not blacklisted from civil service and one who has not been found guilty of corruption and embezzlement.

Why is there no education requirement for the candidates?

Besides Senators, people representatives are not required to have a particular level of education. The voters choose their leaders based on ability and integrity. This is mostly because it was discovered that good leadership skills did not necessarily correspond the level of education one had.

So, for how long will they serve in parliament?

According to the constitution, Members of Parliament serve for five years. This term can be renewed depending on their party’s decision or if re-elected. The constitution requires the elections to take place in not less than 30 days and not more than 60 before the term of the incumbent parliament expires.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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