Eligible Rwandan voters will be guided by a newer and more comprehensive set of laws if Parliament passes the draft Electoral Code next week, The New Times can reveal.
The draft law which was presented to the Lower Chamber of Parliament this week indicates that come next year, polling stations will be open by 6.00 am.
Article 38 of the new draft law stipulates, “Voting starts at 6.00 am in the morning and ends at 3:00 pm in the afternoon.”
The national electoral commission declares provisional electoral results in period not exceeding five days after closure of polls.
The State Minister in the Ministry of Local government in charge of social welfare, Christine Nyatanyi, however told Parliament that the time for opening and closure of the polls may be changed by members of the polling committee based on extreme cases like natural disasters.
The draft law also points out that the candidate for the office of the President of the Republic will have to be of Rwandan nationality by origin and must possess a birth certificate issued by competent government authorities.
The candidate also has to be a resident in Rwanda at the time of the submission of his or her candidacy.
According to Article 86 of the draft law, the candidate for the position of President should not hold any other nationality and should hold a certificate confirming that he or she does not have any other nationality or has relinquished any other nationality he or she previously held.
Article 30 chapter 2 says that “Persons whom the courts of last instance have judged to be responsible for insolvability or bankruptcy of corporate bodies under their management and who have not been rehabilitated” will not be eligle to stand in any election.
The law however does not mention whether they can or cannot vote.
Significant among the draft changes is article 66 that relates to the Presidential and Parliamentary elections, where the new law says that “before releasing the final list of candidates, a candidate declared disqualified is notified of the disqualification in writing, and he or she is given time to review his or her dossier so that he or she can know the grounds of disqualification”
This must be done at least 2 days before releasing the final list.
The new draft law says that the list of candidates qualified to campaign is made public at least seven days before the start of election campaigns instead of one day as it was previously provided for by the law.
Nyatanyi told told lawmakers this week that that the proposed electoral code would be a replacement of that one put in place in 1999 which is now outdated.
The new code will incorporate the rules and regulations of grassroots, parliamentary, presidential and referendum elections.