Over 400 to compete for 80 parliamentary seats

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday released the final list of candidates who will run in the September 16 parliamentary elections, exactly a week ahead of the campaign trail.
Prof. Mbanda unveils the full list of parliamentary aspirants in Kigali yesterday.  The New Times/John Mbanda.
Prof. Mbanda unveils the full list of parliamentary aspirants in Kigali yesterday. The New Times/John Mbanda.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday released the final list of candidates who will run in the September 16 parliamentary elections, exactly a week ahead of the campaign trail.

The majority of outgoing MPs are on the final list in the various categories, with the RPF-led coalition due to field the highest number of aspirants – 80 in total.

PS Imberakuri will field 45 candidates, PSD 76 candidates and PL 64 candidates, according to the definitive list unveiled during a news conference by the NEC chairperson Prof. Kalisa Mbanda.

Also in the running are four little-known independent candidates; Venuste Bizirema, Gilbert Mwenedata, Léonille Mutuyimana and Clovis Ganza.

The independent candidates will tussle it out with the political parties for the 53 seats reserved for this category through universal suffrage.

The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 80 members but 27 slots are reserved for special interest groups, namely, women (24 seats), the youth (2) and people living with disabilities (1).

RPF coalition partners Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), Parti Socialiste Rwandais (PSR), Parti du Progrès et la Concorde (PPC) and Centrist Democratic Party (PDC) have two candidates each on the list.

UDPR, which previously ran under an RPF-led coalition, did not field a candidate this time round while the newly registered Green Party failed to beat the deadline to submit potential candidates to the elections body.

Women appear prominently among the candidates fronted by particularly the ruling RPF, which points to the possibility of another strong women presence in the August House should the party and its allies go on to win the polls.

The provisional list of candidates, which had been released last week, had 325 hopefuls, but the final list has been revised to 410.

Up to 103 women candidates will be standing for the 24 women seats, 23 candidates will compete for the two youth slots, while 15 candidates will vie for the one seat reserved for the disabled.

Missing Incumbents

Parties and candidates aspiring for the 53 openly contested seats need a minimum of 5 per cent of the total votes cast to win any parliamentary seat. Never before has an independent candidate met this electoral requirement, meaning only political parties have previously swept these seats.

These slots are shared in proportion to the votes collected by the competing parties/candidates.

Some of the long-serving lawmakers who are not featuring on the list of parliamentary candidates include RPF’s Denis Polisi who first became an MP during the days of the transitional national assembly.

Other incumbents who are missing out on the list include Saïdat Mukanoheli, former Health minister Ezéchias Rwabuhihi, Fortunée Nyiramadirida, Giovanni Renzaho, Athanasie Gahondogo, Evode Kalima, and Jean Baptiste Musemakweli.

Also missing are PSD’s Jean Damascène Gasarabwe and Jean Baptiste Zimulinda.

PL returned all its members, and added Senator Donatille Mukabalisa on its list of candidates.

Among those in line to make a comeback include long-serving parliamentarian and first post-Genocide Speaker Juvénal Nkusi, who tops PSD list; as well as outgoing Speaker Rose Mukantabana and former vice speaker Yvonne  Uwayisenga, who are both among the five women seeking to represent the City of Kigali in the Chamber of Deputies.

Also on the list are PL’s Henriette Sebera Mukamurangwa and François Byabarumwanzi, and RPF’s Désiré Nyandwi, Connie Bwiza, Francis Kaboneka, Emmanuel Mudidi and Alfred Kayiranga.

PDI’s Abbas Mukama, PPC’s Thierry Karemera, PSR’s Jean Baptiste Rucibigango, and PDC’s Clotilde Mukakarangwa are among the candidates.

Newcomers on the list include former Justice minister and envoy to Canada Edda Mukabagwiza, former Mufti Saleh Habimana, former director of cabinet in the Prime Minister’s office, Eugene Barikana, former MP Jean Marie Vianney Gatabazi, poet and filmmaker Edouard Bamporiki, and Chairperson of the National Women Council, Francesca Tengera.

The 103 candidates eyeing to occupy the 24 slots are divided in five constituencies, namely; City of Kigali (five candidates to battle for two seats), Southern Province (30 candidates to compete for six seats), Western Province (21 candidates seeking a share off the six designated seats), Eastern Province (21 candidates vying for six seats), and Northern Province (21 candidates for four seats). The seats were divided in proportion to the number of population and registered voters in the different constituencies.

The head of the national council for the disabled, Gaton Rusiha, is among the 15 people who received the green light to vie for the only seat reserved for people living with disabilities in the Chamber of Deputies.

Women, Youth and disabled

MPs representing women, the youth and the disabled will be elected through electoral colleges composed of representatives of the respective category from the grassroots to the national level.

Besides contesting as representatives of their respective interest groups, women, youth and the disabled are also eligible to contest on their political party tickets or as independent candidates.

In the previous parliamentary elections in 2008 women swept 56.25 per cent of the total seats – the first time females constituted the majority in any parliament in the world.

Meanwhile, outgoing youth MPs Marie Pelagie Uwamaliya Rutijanwa and Basile Bayihiki as well as incumbent representative for the disabled Pierre Claver Rwaka are not seeking re-election to represent their respective constituencies; rather they will be fielded as RPF candidates in the open poll.

That means that only newcomers will contest for the youth and disabled slots.

“What next is for candidates to start preparing for campaigns which are due on Monday next week. Candidates and parties should ensure they write to respective districts where they will conduct their campaigns from two days before the commencement of the campaigns and notify NEC officials in that district,” said Prof. Mbanda

NEC has set up 2291 polling centres in 2148 cells across the country and about 15,500 polling stations in 14,953 villages.

The final list of voters has a total 5,987,077 voters, with 24.3 per cent of the voters hailing from the Southern Province.Up to 28,304 Rwandans in the Diaspora have registered to participate in the poll.Campaigns are scheduled to begin on August 26 and end on September 15.

The general electorate will elect 53 MPs standing on political party or individual tickets on September 16, while the elections for representatives for the youth and the disabled are slated for September 17, and women for September 18. The poll will cost Rwf5 billion.

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