Senatorial elections to cost Rwf200 million

Polling agents help a voter to cast her vote during presidential elections at Groupe Scolaire Camp Kigali in 2017. Rwandans will vote for senators in September. File.

The upcoming senatorial elections, due September this year, will cost about Rwf200 million, about half of what was spent on the previous senatorial polls eight years ago.

The Executive Secretary of National Electoral Commission (NEC), Charles Munyaneza, told The New Times on Tuesday that this year’s elections will cost less because a lot of polling materials from last year’s elections of members of the Chamber of Deputies will be used in the upcoming poll.

“We still have materials that we used in last year’s parliamentary elections such as ballot boxes and ink,” he said.

The 2011 senatorial elections cost Rwf420 million.

NEC has also announced the calendar the elections, which 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 university and higher learning institution community.

According to the electoral calendar, the elections are scheduled from September 16-18.

The election season will kick off with prospective candidates submitting their bids to NEC between July 22 and August 9, while campaigns will run from August 27 through September 15.

Asked about the level of logistical preparations that still need to be done for the polls to take place, Munyaneza said they are almost ready to conduct the polls.

“We already have most of what we want,” he said. “We only have to train volunteers and stakeholders and also raise public awareness about the polls.”

Some 350 electoral volunteers are being trained to support during the forthcoming elections, Munyaneza said, calling for all Rwandans to own and support the process.

“Even if not every Rwandan elects senators, these are people who will represent all Rwandans in the end and we all need to pay attention,” he said.

“For those who will elect, they need to start being aware of the candidates and different institutions should be pro-active in releasing information about the candidates and voters,” he added.

Presidential Orders determining the polling days 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 Friday. 

The number of senators elected from the provinces and the City of Kigali depends on the number of the population who live in those administrative entities and they are elected by all sector and district councillors from the area of their candidature.

The City of Kigali is entitled to one senator, Northern Province two senators, while Eastern, Southern and Western provinces pick three senators each.

Apart from senators appointed by the President of the Republic, who directly take their seats without any further vetting, all the other senatorial nominations are approved by the Supreme Court.

Among the eight senators appointed by the President of the Republic, four are immediately appointed at the start of a new senatorial mandate while the other four are appointed a year later to help ensure continuity of the Senate’s activities.

Equally, two out of the four senators designated by the consultative forum for political parties are appointed a year after a new Senate has been inaugurated.

Senators serve for a five-year term, renewable once. These will be the first senatorial elections under the new Constitution. Previously, senators would serve an eight-year, non-renewable term.

The Senate’s primary mandate is to enact laws of greater national impact such as revision or amendment of the Constitution, organic laws, and laws approving international treaties and agreements on armistice, peace, accession to international organisations, modification of national laws, or those approving international treaties and agreements relating to the status of persons.

Senators also vote on laws on defence and national security, approve the appointment of highest ranking officials in the judicial sector and other top positions in public institutions, and monitor the application of fundamental principles that the State commits itself to uphold under article 10 of the Constitution.

Full schedule

July 22-09 August 2019:Submitting applications

August 27-15 September:Campaigning period

September 16:Polling Day for election of 12 senators representing the four provinces and the City of Kigali

September 17:Polling Day to pick 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 to announce elected senators.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

 

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