Political parties and independent candidates competing for the 53 seats in Parliament will today hit their respective campaign trails to canvas votes for the election slated for September 16-19.
Parliament has 80 seats, but only 53 will be contested for through universal adult suffrage, while the remaining 27 are reserved for special interest groups.
The ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its coalition partners will launch their campaigns today from Kamonyi District.
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 an 80-person coalition list.
The RPF-led coalition will launch its campaign in Kamonyi District in Southern Province
The coalition campaign coordinator, Dr Anita Asiimwe, said all is set for the party flag bearers to hit the campaign trail.
“We have put in much efforts in ensuring that we prepare for the campaigns well and reach out to all the voters. I believe so far we have done a great job in the preparation phase,” said Dr Asiimwe.
Competition hots up
In the 2008 parliamentary elections, an RPF-led coaltion, won the majority seats–42 of the 53 seats that were contested for by two other parties and an independent candidate.
The ruling party’s manifesto which will be used in the campaigns is mainly about consolidating the country’s progress and building on what has been achieved.
In the 2008 campaigns, the runners-up were the Socio-Democratic Party (PSD), who got seven seats representing 13 percent, while the Liberal Party (PL) got 7 per cent which allowed them four parliamentarians in the 80-member House.
Hope for improvement
The two parties have returned to race with both hoping to score higher than previously.
In an interview with The New Times last week the two parties said they were in the final phase of the preparation.
The chairperson of PL, Protais Mitali, said they had put together all the requirements for the campaigns, including the manifesto they would use to draw votes in their favour.
“We have a budget allocated for the campaigns along with other necessities. We intend to launch our campaigns in Rusizi District,” Mitali told this paper last month.
In a telephone interview, yesterday, PL Secretary-General Donatilla Mukabalisa, a senator who suspended her duties to vie for a parliamentary seat, said her party’s manifesto is about promotion of fundamental freedoms, justice and development.
According to PL’s campaign programme, the party has mapped 17 strategic sites to conduct their campaign. The sites are in different districts, but some districts will be combined since there are 30 districts.
PSD plans to launch its campaigns in Gicumbi District, and the party leader, Dr Vincent Biruta, recently told this paper that they are ready for the campaigns.
“We have all the coordination mechanisms in place, all the materials that we will need are also available. We are set for the campaigns,” Biruta, who is also the Minister for Education, said.
Stalwarts from the new player in the race, PS Imberakuri, are confident they will secure some seats in parliament come September 16.
The party will hold its inaugural rally in the City of Kigali.
Parties and independent candidates have 21 days to campaign.
The campaigns will also feature four independent candidates who include; Venuste Bizirema, Gilbert Mwenedata, Léonille Mutuyimana and Clovis Ganza.
Meanwhile candidates seeking to represent special interest groups, namely, women, the youth and the disabled, will address their respective electoral colleges at the same rallies.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) will be involved in deciding where and when these specific candidates will address members of the electoral colleges.
Close to six million voters are expected to take part in the election and NEC has set up 2,291 polling centres in 2,148 cells across the country and about 15,500 polling stations in 14,953 villages.
Up to 28,304 Rwandans in the Diaspora have registered to participate in the poll.
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.
NEC officials say the elections will cost Rwf5 billion.
Each contestant can only land a parliamentary seat after garnering a minimum 5 per cent of the total votes cast. No independent candidate has previously managed to collect enough votes to join the August House.