Up to 5,953,351 Rwandans are eligible to take part in the September 16 parliamentary poll, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has announced.
The final list of voters was released yesterday, in line with the requirement by the Electoral Code which stipulates that the voters’ list shall be made public at least 15 days to polling day.
According to a statement signed by the commission’s president, Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, the Southern Province has the biggest number of registered voters, with 1,437,929 voters or 24.2 per cent of the total registered voters, while the Diaspora is the smallest constituency, with 31,514 people (0.5 per cent) expected to cast their vote.
Up to 1,394,031 voters (23.4 per cent) are registered from the Western Province, 1,393,560 voters (23.4 per cent) are from the Eastern Province, while 1,000,116 voters (16.8 per cent) and 696,381 (11.7 per cent) are from the Northern Province and the City of Kigali, respectively.
The figure has significantly increased from 4.8 million voters who participated in the 2008 parliamentary polls, which brought in office the Parliament that was dissolved last month.
It is also a significant increase from the 5.1 million voters in the 2010 Presidential elections.
Meanwhile, last week, NEC announced that it had started printing ballot papers for the upcoming parliamentary elections.
According to Charles Munyaneza, the executive secretary of the commission, 6.1 million ballot papers will be printed, slightly above the number of registered voters. The ballot paper will also be used during the elections of the special interest groups.
The general elections will be held on September 16 and the next day, women will elect their 24 representatives, while on September 18, the youth and people with disabilities will elect their representatives.
“We are currently printing the ballot papers but we will not take them to the polling stations until September 14 for purposes of security. Also, for security precautions, we can not release the ballot paper specimen to the media,” said Munyaneza.
NEC uses its own printing facility to print election materials.
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 namely, women (24 seats), the youth (2) and people living with disabilities (1).
How the ballot looks
Describing the ballot papers, Munyaneza said; “the one for general election will have three columns, the first column will have the symbol of a political party or the independent candidate’s symbol, the second one will bear the name of a political party or the independent candidate’s name while the last column will be the voting section.”
There are four political parties and four independent candidates vying for the 53 seats in Parliament.
The parties in the race are RPF-led coalition, the Liberal Party (PL), Social Democratic Party (PSD) and PS Imberakuri.
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 80-member coalition list.
The four independent candidates are; Venuste Bizirema, Gilbert Mwenedata, Léonille Mutuyimana and Clovis Ganza.
“The ballot papers for the special interest groups will bear photos of the candidates and their names,” said Munyaneza.
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.
Meanwhile, as NEC officials addressed journalists on Thursday, concerns were raised on the replacements in parliament, particularly if a member entered as an independent candidate.
Normally, when a member of parliament leaves the House under any circumstance, the one next on the list of candidates approved by NEC becomes the replacement.
“Although we yet to know if we will have independent independents in parliament, the formula is that when an independent candidate leaves the House, they are not replaced. At the moment we don’t think it is a concern but it could be a problem when we have about 40 per cent of the sitting MPs as independent candidates and they all step down, that would mean the parliament wouldn’t have the required quorum to take decisions,” said Munyaneza.
For an independent candidate or party to get a seat in Parliament, they are required to garner at least 5 per cent of the total votes cast.