Member of Parliament, Juliana Kantengwa, during the an extraordinary session yesterday to revise the final draft of the Electoral Code, proposed that voting be made compulsory to all citizens who have attained the voting age.
Kantengwa said that voting should be a condition and not an option, adding that all nationals should be obliged by law to take part in the electoral process.
“This is not stated anywhere in the laws, but we should start debates on the possibility of having all Rwandans eligible to vote participate in the process,” said Kantengwa.
“If a certain individual doesn’t like a certain politician, they have the right to vote ‘NO’ but not to leave the entire exercise to some people,” she proposed.
Her proposal was welcomed by the Parliamentary Bureau but no particular date was set to commerce debates on the proposal.
The three hour extraordinary session unanimously passed 117 articles out of the 211 articles that make up the entire bill.
Voting on the electoral code is expected to resume today morning where MPs are expected to pass the remaining 94 articles.
The draft electoral code had previously been tabled before the Lower Chamber which passed it, but was later sent to the Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and fight against Genocide for streamlining.
Hon. Evariste Kalisa, who heads the committee, yesterday re-tabled the bill with minor changes and lawmakers immediately started voting article by article as they proposed changes on some items in the code.
Meanwhile, Article 36 of the revised draft law stipulates, “Polling must be done in the course of only one day. However, where this is impossible, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) takes any other necessary measures.”
The same article adds that; “Voting starts at 6.00 am in the morning and ends at 3:00 pm in the afternoon. The time for opening the polls and closure of the polls may be changed by members of the polling committee after consulting the chairman of NEC.”
Article 91 states the timing and requirements for submission of candidacies by Political Organisations or Coalition of Political Organisations and independent candidates says that the list of candidates shall be presented to the NEC at least 35 days before the polling day by the legal representative of the political organisation or coalition of political organisations.
“The list of candidates of a political organisation or coalition of political organisations shall be accompanied by a statement bearing the signatures of the members of the supreme organ of the political organisation or coalition of political organisations, having determined the list in accordance with the law,” reads the article.
It also adds the Independent candidates present their candidatures themselves and that NEC issues a receipt certifying that the list was presented. In no way shall the receipt prejudge the admissibility of this candidature.
Article 92 outlines the additional requirements in the submission of candidacies indicating that the list of candidates shall be accompanied by full names of each candidate as appearing in his/her National identity card, a birth certificate issued by competent authorities, a detailed curriculum vitae and a copy of identity card.
Also compulsory is a copy of the voter’s card, a report on the criminal record issued by competent government authorities within the previous three months and a logo of political organization or coalition of political organization to be printed on the ballot paper among others.
Article 93 states the requirements for independent candidates pointing out that on top of the mentioned requirements, independent candidate will be required to produce a list of signatures and photo of at least 600 Rwandan citizens registered on the electoral list, including at least 12 people domiciled in each District.
The new code will incorporate the rules and regulations of grassroots, parliamentary, presidential and referendum elections.