GASABO - At least 3,000 local and international observers will be accredited to oversee the forthcoming parliamentary elections slated for September this year.
This was revealed by Charles Munyaneza, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) acting Executive Secretary during an exclusive interview.
He said that some of the observers will come on invitation while others will be accredited on request.
“Those that we invited include officials from countries whose electoral management authorities we have strong partnerships. Others will come on a regional arrangement,” Munyaneza revealed at the NEC offices in Kimihurura.
Observers from the East African Community to which Rwanda is a member were also invited.
“However, we have always been accommodative of other parties willing to observe…we have started receiving their requests and have accepted them. What we encourage is for people to form bodies because we are not in for individual observers,” he said.
Some of the observers have already arrived in the country including those from the European Union.
Local observers will be from research institutions and bodies like the Centre for Conflict Management based at the National University of Rwanda and others from the civil society platform.
“We are soon starting to work on their accreditations and badges that they will be carrying during the elections,” Munyaneza said.
He said that the number of accredited observers will increase by at least 1,000 from the 2,000 that observed the 2003 presidential and parliamentary polls.
Munyaneza also revealed that 2150 polling centres have been identified. These will mainly be Primary schools that will accommodate 15,000 polling stations countrywide.
“There has been decentralization of these centres because we want to bring them closer to the electorate…this time centres will be at the cell level while stations will be at the level of Umudugudu (village),” he said.
During the last polls, polling centres were at the sector level. He said that the schools where the elections will be held have been earmarked and authorities of these schools have already been informed.
According to the electoral calendar, NEC will open its doors for reception of candidates on August 12 and finish nine days later on the 21st.
“We shall announce the final list of candidates on the 24th and public campaigns will start a day later,” Munyaneza highlighted. However, Munyaneza decried some of the development partners that pledged to support the elections and have not shown any sign of honoring them.
He singled out the Belgian Embassy which signed a Memorandum of Understanding to contribute $750,000 (over Frw400m) but has not shown any indications of fulfilling the pledge in time.
He added that there are other partners who have since released their contributions like the British Government through their international development body, DFID and also the Dutch Government.
The parliamentary polls which will take place for the second time after the 1994 Genocide will on September 15 see 53 parliamentary candidates fielded by political organisations or standing on individual tickets elected.
Electoral colleges for women, youth and the disabled will pick their own representatives on September 16, 17 and 18, respectively.