Elections to choose one candidate who will represent public universities and institutions of higher learning in the country’s third Senate kicked off this morning at select venues across the country.
Academic and research staff will choose who among Pierre Claver Kayumba and Cyprien Niyomugabo will represent public varsities in what the National Electoral Commission says is a highly competitive race.
The process will continue tomorrow when private varsities decide who among Ephrem Kanyarukiga, Innocent Nkundabatware and Emmanuel Cyeze Munyamasoko will represent them in the next Upper House of Parliament.
Senators elected from public and private universities and institutions of higher learning are required to be academicians or researchers and are elected by their peers by a secret ballot.
Today’s elections are part of the process that began in July.
Both the elected and appointed senators serve for a five-year term, renewable once.
The Executive Secretary of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Charles Munyaneza told The New Times in an exclusive interview that, overall, the preparations and turn-up were good saying.
“When you look at the results, you can see that there was a high level of competition. We could see it even during the campaign period that it would be a tight race in most places because there was good participation and lots of enthusiasm to vote,” he said.
Munyaneza said the competitiveness exhibited in the ongoing elections is healthy for democracy.
“They basically shared the votes, the margins were too tight,” he said.
The senatorial elections will usher in the country’s Third Senate, replacing the current one that has been in place since 2011.
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 learning institutions, while another is picked from private universities and higher learning institutions.