The deadline is today, Friday, for the submission of candidatures for those expected to vie for the 14 elective seats in the Rwandan senate during the senatorial polls slated for next month.
According to the National Electoral Commission (NEC), despite window that allowed for the outgoing senators to vie for another term, they had by Thursday not received any candidature from the outgoing members.
Charles Munyaneza, NEC’s Executive Secretary, told The New Times Thursday evening that the interest in this year’s Senatorial elections is the highest ever recorded by his office.
“The turn-up has been great because on average we have about seven candidates per province. We have a good mix of both women and men, the young and old,” Munyaneza said.
“Interestingly, we will stop receiving candidates by 5pm today but so far none of the sitting senators has expressed interest.”
Submission of candidatures to the Kimihurura-based electoral commission started on July 22
This year’s elections will usher in the country’s third Senate, replacing the current one that has been in place since 2011.
Munyaneza pointed out that it was clear that as the country progresses, more people are getting more cautious of their civic rights, which he said is a healthy practice in any democratic dispensation.
“This year’s turn-up shows that people are beginning to understand how the Senate works. They used to hold back because they didn’t know how it works with the lower chamber but what we see now is genuine interest to know more and to serve,” he said.
The elective seats include 12 from the provinces and the City of Kigali and two from public and private institutions of higher learning; one from each.
Munyaneza explained that after receiving the submissions, the law requires NEC to review the candidates and produce a status report with details on each.
“We make the report and include details like what documents they filed, which ones they were unable to, and other things we may have noted and then we forward the files to the Supreme Court within three days from the deadline of receiving candidatures,” he said.
After that, the Supreme Court is also by law given five days to make their own review before they send the final list of approved candidates to NEC.
NEC is mandated to announce the approved candidates.
About the Senate
Rwanda has a bicameral parliament, consisting of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.
The Senate is made up of 26 members; including 12 members who represent the country’s four provinces and the City of Kigali and are picked through electoral colleges, and eight senators appointed by the President of the Republic.
Four Senators are designated by the Consultative Forum of Political Organisations, one Senator represents public universities and higher institutions of learning, while another one is picked from private university and higher learning institution community.
According to the electoral calendar, the election campaigns will run from August 27 through September 15.
Presidential Orders determining polling day and electoral campaign period for Senators, and the polling constituency, the number of senators to be elected in each constituency and the electoral colleges were approved by a Cabinet meeting on June 7.
Both the elected and appointed senators serve for a five-year term, renewable once.
Full schedule of the Senatorial electoral roadmap
July 22-August 9: Submitting applications
August 27-September 15: Campaigning period
September 16: Polling Day for electing 12 senators representing the four provinces and the City of Kigali.
September 17: Polling Day for picking one senator from lecturers and researchers of public universities and higher learning institutions.
September 18: Election of one senator from lecturers and researchers of private universities and higher learning institutions.
September 30: Deadline for announcing elected senators.