KIGALI - The National Electoral Commission (NEC), has refuted claims that opposition groups have been left out in the preparations of the forthcoming presidential elections.
According to the NEC Executive Secretary, Charles Munyaneza, opposition groups don’t need to ‘ask for permission from anybody’ but it is up to them (parties) to approach NEC and inquire about particular areas in which they should be involved.
“As far as we are concerned as the electoral commission, we are not informed of any opposition. But still we have not yet got to the time where we have presidential candidates, and campaigns that should be in June or July, according to our electoral calendar,” Munyaneza said.
“Regarding whether these opposition groups should be part and parcel of the electoral process, I think they should, it is their right as Rwandans and as political organisations. They don’t need to request anybody. ”
He added that any political organisations that would wish to be part of the process should by now be organising itself by acquainting themselves with the electoral law and the electoral process as well as the calendar.
“They should take time and approach the electoral commission to know what is being done--as far as we are concerned we haven’t seen any of these people approaching us, none has visited us even to ask how far we have gone with the preparations,” Munyaneza added.
He, however, downplayed concerns by some opposition members that they should have people on the electoral commission, saying that the commission is not formed on the basis of parties, and wondered if that was case, how many commissioners the body would have if each party was to appoint one.
Munyaneza advised the parties to first find out whether the commission has done anything against the law or has failed in its duties before pushing for membership, adding that the appointments are not made on the basis of parties.
“If one was to be a member of the electoral commission on the ticket of a party, that would be very dangerous in terms of organising free and fair elections,” Munyaneza said.
He, however, said that people who work for the commission are free to belong to any party as Rwandans but while serving at the commission, they have to put the interests of the party aside.
Munyaneza said that there is a form of dialogue between NEC and the parties subscribing to the forum for political parties, but said that if there are any political parties with particular concerns they are free to approach the electoral body.
The NEC official said that the preparations for the August 9 polls are on track, adding that currently, mass sensitisation and mobilisation is going on countrywide.
Munyaneza noted that currently the body is sensitising women through women organisations and the National Women Council, youth through their associations and civic education at local government levels to educate people on the importance of elections.