The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has predicted stiff competition in the September legislative elections, given the high number of candidates who have expressed interest in vying for parliamentary seats.
NEC officials said at a news briefing on Thursday that the number of political parties, independent candidates and individuals vying for special category positions have significantly increased.
The provisional lists of candidate, pending NEC’s vetting, show that 537 candidates are vying for 80 seats in the general category.
The number is higher compared to the 438 hopefuls who submitted their forms in the 2013 parliamentary polls.
The Lower House has 80 seats and all are up for grabs.
Twenty-four MPs represent women (elected through the National Women Council structures), two are youth representatives while one represents people living with disabilities.
Going by the number prospective candidates, Prof Kalisa Mbanda, NEC chairperson, said that more Rwandans are likely to participate than in previous parliamentary polls.
“The number of political parties, private candidates and those vying for special category positions have increased and this shows there will be stiffer competition in the forthcoming parliamentary elections than before,” said Mbanda
The competing political parties include Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its allies, Liberal Party (PL), Social Democratic Party (PSD), Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), as well as PS Imberakuri.
All the political parties submitted lists of 313 candidates vying for 53 seats in parliament, according to NEC.
A total of 179 women are competing for 24 seats while 30 independent candidates have submitted their candidatures vying for two seats. Under the category of persons with disabilities, NEC said, they received 10 applicantions for the one slot.
Only five out of the seventeen people who expressed interest to compete as independent candidates have made it to the vetting level. None of them is a female
Potential candidates are required to secure 600 signatures from all the 30 districts as proof that a candidate has been endorsed by a minimum of 12 people per district among other requirements.
Aspiring Candidates, NEC said, are not allowed to start campaigning or showing anything showing they are candidates until a week after NEC announced the final list.
The preliminary list of candidates will be announced on July 30 while the final list will be released on August 6.
Political parties as well as private candidates should at least get 5 per cent of votes to secure a seat in parliament
The elections are expected to cost between Rwf5 – 6 Rwfbillion, according to NEC.