The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has urged political parties to respect the electoral calendar for the forthcoming presidential poll scheduled for August 4 and restrain from campaigning ahead of time.
According to the electoral roadmap, from June 5 to 14, NEC will receive applications for presidential candidates, whose final list will be announced on June 27
Campaigns for the nominated candidates will officially begin on July 14 and end on August 3, a day before the poll.
“Before then (July 14), we don’t expect people to go around claiming to be candidates and soliciting signatures. It’s too early,” said Charles Munyaneza, the NEC executive secretary.
He was yesterday addressing the general assembly of National Consultative Forum of Political Organisations (NFPO) at the forum’s offices in Kacyiru, Kigali.
Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, the NEC chairperson, briefed the party leaders about the regulations and progress of preparations of the upcoming polls.
Kalisa called on the parties to work closely with their members so as to contribute to a peaceful presidential election.
“Political parties are our main partners; they are the ones who field candidates, and campaign for them. So they are central to good conduct of elections,” he said.
The electoral commission urged politicians to avoid irregularities ahead of the elections.
“Politicians and political organisations play a big role in ensuring peaceful elections. We are happy that, so far, the environment is good, politicians are ready to cooperate and support the electoral commission. We are banking on them to make sure our electoral process does peacefully as it has always been,” added Munyaneza.
According to the electoral policy on presidential election, technology will be used in voter registration, campaigns and election. Social media will also be used in campaigns.
In Diaspora, elections will not be held at embassies alone, polling sites will be established in areas with many Rwandan communities.
There were plans that those sites will be established in places with not less than 60 Rwandans.
But members of political organisations suggested that the number be reduced to give chance to more people to vote.
“We need to educate Rwandans about these changes so that they can be prepared to participate massively. The second phase of registration is in May and we are calling on people, especially the youth who have reached voting age, to register, participate and determine how the country is going to be governed in the coming years. We need political parties to contribute to this,” said Munyaneza.
Meanwhile, Clotilde Mukakarangwa, of Centrist Democratic Party (PDC), was elected the new spokesperson of NFPO at the same meeting.
Established in 2003, NFPO is an umbrella of 11 political parties operating in Rwanda.
Mukakarangwa said the forum is ready to contribute to successful, peaceful elections.
“It requires values and thoughtfulness to choose a right leader. Leaders of political parties should cultivate values among their members to contribute to free and fair elections. We will be discussing that in the forum,” she said.
Some 1.7 million new voters are expected to participate in the presidential election, according to National Electoral Commission.
Nearly 6.8 million citizens are expected to participate in this year’s polls, up from 5.7 million in 2010, according to NEC.