Special groups gear up for parliamentary polls

Preparations to elect Members of Parliament representing special interest groups are underway, ahead of the September polls. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) will receive names of aspiring candidates on August 6.
Voters will in September elect 80 MPs including 24 women representatives, two representatives  and one  MP representing of persons with disabilities.  The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.
Voters will in September elect 80 MPs including 24 women representatives, two representatives and one MP representing of persons with disabilities. The New Times/ Timothy Kisambira.

Preparations to elect Members of Parliament representing special interest groups are underway, ahead of the September polls. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) will receive names of aspiring candidates on August 6.

Representatives of special categories occupy 27 seats  women taking up 24 of them. Two seats are reserved for the youth and one is reserved for a representative of persons with disabilities.

The Chamber of Deputies has a total of 80 seats, with 53 others occupied by representatives of political parties or independent politicians.

Most of interest groups are planning to hold their campaigns at the provincial level.

In separate interviews on Monday, representatives of the special categories said that much of the work related to the elections will be done during campaigns, after the NEC publishes the final list of candidates.

According to the electoral calendar, NEC is expected to publish the final list of candidates on August 19, while the campaigns are scheduled to begin on August 26 and end on September 15.

The chairperson of the National Women Council, Francesca Tengera, said the electoral commission has trained women from the cell to the provincial level on elections.

“MPs representing women are elected through electoral colleges composed of delegates drawn from women councils at the sector, district, provincial and national levels, but any woman who is above the age of 18 can contest for a parliamentary seat,” Tengera explained.

She added that; “we want to elect women who will ably represent the interest of all women in the country, women who are vibrant and can engage in a debate boldly.”

The seats are distributed in  proportion to the population and registered voters living in each of the four provinces and the City of Kigali.

The Eastern, Western and Southern provinces will have six women MPs each while that the Northern Province and the City of Kigali will have four and two parliamentary seats, respectively. Besides contesting as women representatives, women are also eligible to contest in their respective political organisations or as independent candidates in the August House.

The 2008 elections saw female candidates take up 56.25 per cent of the total  seats - the first time females constituted the majority in any Parliament in the world.

Youth representatives are elected through youth structures right from the grassroots up to the National Youth Council, while the MP representing the disabled is elected through the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD).

Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the National Youth Council, Alphonse Nkuranga, said at the moment they are embarking on sensitising the youth to take part in the polls but as well encouraging those interested in submitting their candidatures to NEC to start preparing themselves.

He added that, after NEC publishes the final list of the candidates, the National Youth Council will again mobilise the youth to take part in the campaigns which will be held at the provincial level.

“Our electoral college is composed of 264 voters. These  include eight representatives of Institutions of Higher Learning, eight from high schools, eight from the national executive committee and 240 representing the youth from the districts,” said Nkuranga.

The two incumbent youth representatives in Parliament are Basile Bayihiki and Pélagie Uwamariya.

The National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) Executive Secretary, Emmanuel Ndayisaba, also said that normally much work comes after NEC has published the list of candidates.

“We are looking at ways we can accord NEC any necessary support, but at the moment we are encouraging our members to take part in the elections…our electoral college is composed of 252 voters from all districts across the country,” said Ndayisaba.

The one seat reserved for the disabled is currently occupied by MP Pierre Claver Rwaka.

According to the election calendar, the general electorate will elect 53 MPs standing on political party or individual tickets on September 16, while the elections for representatives, youth and the disabled are slated for September 17, and women for September 18.

Over six million Rwandans are expected to vote in the upcoming parliamentary elections which will cost the tax payer Rwf5 billion.

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