KICUKIRO - A group of development partners will today honour their financial commitment towards the September parliamentary elections, a top national election official has said.
Charles Munyaneza, the Acting Executive Secretary of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), said yesterday that the commission will today receive contributions from a section of donors who will channel their support through an election basket fund.
“We will be signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and they are expected to release their pledges for this year’s election immediately,” Munyaneza said yesterday.
He was speaking to The New Times at the sidelines of a consultative meeting between NEC commissioners and media practitioners on the upcoming parliamentary elections at Alpha Palace Hotel in Kigali. The official mentioned some of the main donors were DFID, the European Commission, SIDA and the Netherlands.
Munyaneza said had agreed to pump $10.2 million (over Frw5 billion) into the basket fund to be used during this year’s parliamentary elections and the presidential and senatorial polls set for 2010 and 2011, respectively.
“For now they will release $4.1 million meant for parliamentary elections,” he explained. He however added that there are some other donors such as the UNDP whose contributions will not go through the basket fund, but who are equally expected to contribute towards this year’s polls.
In an earlier presentation during the meeting, Munyaneza put the total sum of this year’s election budget at Frw6, 649,654,370. He indicated that so far the commission has in its coffers Frw 4.81 billion for the upcoming elections, representing a deficit of Frw1.83 billion.
However, Munyaneza told this reporter: “To be frank, the deficit is no more because the money we expect from donors through the basket fund covers that gap.”
And NEC president Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa told the meeting that his commission had enough financial muscle to run the September elections even without foreign financial assistance.
He was responding to a journalist’s question that referred to the 2003 general elections which were fully funded by the Government after donors pulled out.
“Having had that experience (of 2003) was actually a blessing in disguise. We have taken all those factors into consideration and can assure you that NEC is capable of organising successful elections with the available,” Karangwa said.
“Personally I am happy that we managed the 2003 crisis and emerged victorious. Those who refused to support us then are now willing to come on board,” he said.
Rwandans will on September 15 elect 53 parliamentary candidates fielded by political organisations or standing on individual tickets, while electoral colleges for women, youth and the disabled will pick their own representatives on September 16, 17 and 18, respectively.
Women have a minimum of 24 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, while two seats are reserved for youth and one for disabled persons.
Following the 2006 territorial administrative reforms which erased previous constituencies, election officials have drafted a legal instrument which will see the Southern, Eastern and Western provinces elect six women representatives each, while the Northern Province and the City of Kigali will pick four and two women MPs, respectively.
Meanwhile, NEC officials yesterday dispelled fears that Rwanda could experience the same difficulties similar to the recent election crises in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Prof. Karangwa said that while Rwandans were equally vulnerable to such challenges, the solution lied in the hands of all Rwandans themselves, and added that his commission had taken significant steps to avoid similar situations.
He urged all Rwandans to take full ownership of their election processes, adding that whatever decisions the current generation makes will have a bearing on the future generation. He appealed to the media to be impartial and avoid sensational reporting during the period.
Munyaneza largely blamed the post-election crisis in Kenya to the Kenyan media which announced results from their own tallying centres ahead of the Electoral Commission of Kenya’s official results.
NEC commissioners also said they were strong and professional enough to resist any pressures that may come from politicians during election period.
The meeting was part of the ongoing consultations between NEC and different segments of the society as the commission seeks to increase voters’ awareness ahead of the elections.