Students from the National University f Rwanda (NUR) and the youth, in general, have been advised to fully own the upcoming parliamentary elections to make them a success.
The call was made on Wednesday by the chairperson of the National Electoral Commission (NEC), Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, while addressing students and staff at the Huye-based institution.
Kalisa, noted that their participation in the elections is vital.
He later told Saturday Times in an interview that his experience has proved that many university students do not actively participate in some civic duties, elections included.
“It creates an impression that people go to school only to get knowledge, which is a wrong and misguided perception,” Kalisa, a former lecturer at the same university, said.
“You should understand that their role in advancing good governance in the country is very critical and that leadership is the foundation of development.”
The NEC boss, who addressed an audience of a few dozen new students mainly from first year, encouraged the students to start getting involved with pre-election activities, including attending campaign rallies of political parties, independent candidates and those vying for seats reserved for special-interest groups (women, youth and people with disabilities).
He told them that by attending rallies it would help them make informed decisions come Election Day.
“The country has invested a lot in you and it expects a lot from you. In the elections, particularly, we want them to be active and participate massively,” Kalisa said in an interview.
The NUR vice rector for administration and finance, Dr Desiré Ndushabandi, pledged to “improve on where there is need” and said the university will facilitate the students to take part in the elections.
About 11,000 students of the university are expected to vote, according to NEC figures. At least 21 polling stations will be set up inside the university to facilitate the students to vote.
About 5.9 million Rwandans are eligible to take part in the elections, and majority of the eligible voters are in the category of the youth, he said.
On September 16, registered voters will be expected to participate in the exercise to pick 53 of the 80 MPs through universal adult suffrage while the next day, women electoral colleges in five designated constituencies will elect a total of 24 women representatives.
On September 18, members of the electoral colleges for the youth and persons living with disabilities will pick their representatives as well.