Ahead of Monday’s election for sector councilors, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday met with local and diplomatic observers for the polls to remind them of the ground rules and for the two parties to discuss any arising matters.
According to NEC, over 2,000 observers have been accredited for the Monday exercise and these include observers from diplomatic missions accredited to Rwanda and those from the civil society.
During the meeting, Seraphine Sifa, an observer from the Rwanda Governance Board (RGB), called for the proper communication to the electorate about the right voting age in the local council elections.
“There was information circulating on social media with the commission’s logo stating that the minimum age of voting was 16 and not the official 18 years,” Sifa said.
In response, Kalisa Mbanda, the NEC chairperson, said the right voting age for the local council polls, just like other elections, is 18 years.
“I wish to clarify that the confusion was as a result of the issue on youth because of the new youth bracket which is now between 16 and 30) but these elections, for one to be allowed to vote, they are supposed to be 18 years and above,” Mbanda said.
He also requested the observers to conduct themselves in a good way and act in an impartial manner.
“We request you not to release the results of the elections before we announce the official figures. We also hope that the reports you make after the elections will help us see how we can improve in future electoral processes,” Mbanda said.
The commission chief said the results for the local council elections, which will be held by secret ballot, will be announced on the same day.
“Voting will begin at 7am and end at 3pm and we will count the votes and release the results immediately. The executive committee at district level and mayors of districts will be elected from these councils on February 27, while the executive committee for City of Kigali and the City mayor will be elected on March 2,” he said.
Mbanda also encouraged the youth, especially university students, to participate in the elections.
“The youth constitute 62 per cent of the registered voters and we request them to take active part. Even students will be given chance to vote as well. They are the younger generation and the leaders they vote for have a very significant role in rebuilding the country,” Mbanda added.
The local polls started on February 8 with the election of village and cell councils and will be concluded on March 4.