Local Government and Social Affairs minister Francis Kaboneka has urged local leaders to collaborate in ensuring that ongoing election campaigns run smoothly in their areas.
Kaboneka was speaking to governors, mayors, executive secretaries of sectors and cells via video conferencing at the ministry offices on Thursday.
The discussion focused on local leaders’ role in facilitating the ongoing campaigns.
“Local government work and businesses should continue to operate normally as campaigns continue. If some cell or sector leaders want to join campaign trails there should be others to remain behind to serve people who might have urgent issues. Businesses should also remain open because they can even serve those attending campaign rallies,” he said.
Kaboneka urged local leaders to welcome candidates campaigning in their areas and help them in planning venues for their rallies.
“Candidates should be welcomed and let to present their manifesto for the electorate to make informed decisions on who can lead the country. Candidates have their right under electoral laws and therefore should not meet any hurdles during campaigns. We need smooth campaigns,” he said.
The minister was responding to recent cases of mix-up in campaign venues in some districts.
Incidentally, Police yesterday arrested Rubavu mayor Jérémie Sinamenye, an official at the district office, and the executive secretary of Busanze Sector in Nyaruguru District over frustrating some of the candidates, and breaching presidential electoral code.
Police spokesperson Théos Badege said the three officials were detained on Thursday and Friday.
Kaboneka also spoke of safety, urging candidates’ supporters on campaign trails to ensure personal safety by travelling early, especially when traveling to distant venues.
He warned some local leaders against forcing citizens to contribute toward elections, saying any action should be voluntary.
“We do not need money that is not voluntarily contributed. If some people want to make contributions, it must be done voluntarily. We realise that some leaders even get that contribution and pocket it. If there are those who might have committed such mistakes, they will be prosecuted,” he warned.
The Governor of Northern Province, Jean-Claude Musabyimana, said: “We have ensured that people are not forcibly asked to contribute toward elections. We heard about some cases but we immediately intervened to stop the vice. At least Rwf500 million was contributed by those who were willing to do so in the province.”
The Governor of Western Province, Alphonse Munyantwari, said those who willingly made contributions to support elections are those with good income.
The Governor of the Eastern Province, Judith Kazayire, pledged to welcome all candidates and facilitate them to get rally venues.
Three candidates are vying for the August 4 presidential election. They are Paul Kagame, a candidate of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi); Frank Habineza, of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda; and Philippe Mpayimana, an independent.