The Senate is discussing the possibility of holding upcoming elections simultaneously to save money as the government presented a new electoral Bill.
The revised Bill, tabled by the Ministry of Local Government through National Electoral Commission, seeks to regulate the referendum on constitutional amendments, next year’s local government election, 2017 presidential election and the 2018 parliamentary election in all chambers.
However, members of the senatorial Standing Committee for Social Affairs, Human Rights and Petitions that is scrutinising the Bill, on Monday, asked the government to explain modalities of carrying out simultaneous elections to save time and money.
According to Senator Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, should the government decide to merge all upcoming elections, more money and time would be saved and chanelled into other areas such as development programmes.
“We will have mayors and local leaders elections, which will lead to presidential elections before embarking on the legislature. Is there a way this can be done in a single event?” Ntawukuriryayo asked.
Down to Constitution
According to Local Government minister Francis Kaboneka, it would depend on the outcome of the Constitution, currently being revised by Parliament ahead of a referendum.
“At this juncture, it is a bit difficult since terms of such leaders are not harmonised, unless it is addressed by the ongoing debates on constitutional amendments, otherwise we will stick to the normal routine and observe the electoral law in place,” he said.
Although Rwanda has matured in conducting fair and transparent elections, Kaboneka said conducting elections in a single round would make polls easier and cost effective.
The current revised Constitution, which has just been adopted by the Lower House, if passed in its status, would see both the President of the Republic and senators hold offices for a period of five years renewable once.
Members of the Lower House currently are elected for a five-year term which might be prolonged for five more years. The current term of service ends mid-2018.
The local leaders polls are conducted by an electoral college, composed of councils’ representatives, and are indirect as opposed to legislative and presidential elections which are directly conducted.
According to the draft versions of the same electoral code, in its Article 15, to start indirect elections, the electoral college should at least reach a half of its members.
“If the half is not reached, elections will be postponed for the period not exceeding five days,” reads part of the modified law.
The law that has been in place since 2010 was amended to comply with the current political realities at the same time easing the election registration process.
Once in place, it will see voters now register, update their details on the voters’ register or conducting electoral campaigns using available Information Technology Systems.