The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has asked Frank Habineza, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda presidential hopeful, to stick to the electoral guidelines and regulation to avoid any interruptions to his campaign.
Venues for two of Habineza’s scheduled rallies had to be changed after it emerged that the Green Party had selected a market place and a school - two prohibited locations for rallies.
According to the election guidelines, candidates are not allowed to hold rallies at such public installations because it would interrupt the daily routines of the area residents.
In a telephone interview with The New Times, the Executive Secretary of NEC, Charles Munyaneza, said he had received complaints from both the candidate and local officials.
“He [Habineza] wanted to campaign at a marketplace and later at a school and he knows so well that this is illegal because it causes mass disruptions,” Munyaneza said, adding that he spoke to the candidate and hopes that it will not happen again.
“I personally talked to the candidate during the confusion and advised him to carefully read the regulations that govern elections,” Munyaneza said.
The changes in venues prompted the candidate to cancel the scheduled rallies in Nyagatare District yesterday and head to Gatsibo District to meet voters.
The Green Party campaign manager, Jean Claude Ntezimana, said they had informed the local authorities of their plans but the venue changes came in a little too late.
“We informed the authorities the day, time and venue of our campaign in Rwimiyaga Sector but when we got there, we were told that the venue was a market place and we moved,” Ntezimana said.
After the candidate and local authorities could not agree on the appropriate venue in time, they opted to head to Gatsibo District, where they were received by local authorities and their supporters.
Ntezimana said his party had appealed to the National Electoral Commission to intervene and ask all the local authorities to be accommodating.
“We are only legally supposed to be informed of any changes at least 12 hours before. We have talked to NEC and are hoping that they can rectify this,” he said.
NEC has maintained strict regulations regarding rally venues and schedule for campaign activities to enable Rwandans go about their day-to-day duties with minimal inconveniences or disruptions.
The last day for campaigns is set for August 3, a day before Rwandans living in the country go to the polls. The Diaspora will vote a day earlier.
Habineza and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent, are challenging incumbent President Paul Kagame of RPF-Inkotanyi.