Next month Rwandans will go to the polls to vote for people who will represent them in parliament after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Monday released a list of 521 candidates approved to contest in the elections. The commission had received 539 applications. With the elections drawing closer, we take you through some of the things that you ought to know.
Who is being elected?
These elections are all about the Lower, which is made up of 80 members. Of these, 53 are drawn from political parties, and, or individual candidates, 24 represent women, two are youth representatives, and one represents people with disabilities.
What one requires to stand for Parliament
The candidate must be Rwandan and at least 21 years old. He or she must be a registered voter. He or she must not have been convicted of genocide and related crimes. He must be a person of integrity.
The elections begin on September 2 when Rwandans in the Diaspora will cast their ballot. On September 3, Rwandans inside the country will vote people who will represent them in the general category and women representatives while representatives for people with disabilities and the youth will be voted on September 4.
Number of voters
This year, the number of voters is expected to be an estimated 7.1 million people. This represents an increase of 300,000 registered voters from last year’s presidential elections. According to the Executive Secretary of NEC, this year alone an estimated 200,000 new voters, mostly the youths, who just turned 18 are eligible to vote.
Political parties participating for the first time
For the first time since their inception, the Democratic Green Party (DGP) and PS Imberakuri have been given the green light to participate in parliamentary elections after some of their nominees fulfilled the requirements.
NEC announced on Monday that 34 nominees fronted by the DGP and 36 members from PS Imberakuri had been given the green light to contest, which was described by DGP as ‘a step into the right direction’.
This year’s parliamentary elections will cost an estimated Rwf6 billion and will be solely by funded by the Government.
Women scored highly again when it comes to participation. A record 326 women in total are contesting for seats in the lower chamber, up from the 221 in 2013.
Women make up about 61 per cent of all the nominees.
The campaigns for this year’s parliamentary elections kick off on August 13 and end on September 1. The law that required candidates to request NEC for approval before they advertise their manifestos with government media houses has been tweaked to allow the candidates to deal with the stations directly.
Media houses are however required to update NEC on who they are dealing with to give them an opportunity to follow on whether all candidates were being accorded equal airtime as stipulated in the law.