The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Karangwa Hands Over to New NEC Chair

The National Electoral Commission needs to be protected from internal and external pressures, the outgoing chairman, Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa has said.

"You should ensure the independence of the commission. When we talk of independence, people think its independence from the government alone. No, you should resist internal and external pressures from non-government actors. This can be achieved through internal budget funding," the newly appointed Senator.

He was speaking at a ceremony during which he officially handed over to his successor, Kalisa Mbanda, at the commission's head office in Kimihurura, yesterday.

Karangwa said that 80 per cent of NEC's budget was locally generated, adding that it should be raise to 100 per cent.

Karangwa said the opposition should not imply disagreement and conflicting with government.

He was responding to the question on whether he had a hard time with the opposition during his tenure as the electoral commission chairman.

"First of all, I feel that should not be the right term because some people think to be in opposition you must be confrontational. No, we worked together for the benefit of us all. I had no difficult time with the opposition," said Karangwa.

The Senator challenged his successor to work towards increasing the staff from the current 49 permanent staff, and man the existing facilities like the printing facility, which he said is among the most sophisticated printers in the country.

He encouraged the new chairman, Kalisa Mbanda, to ensure that at least each district has a supervisor instead of one supervisor representing more than one district as was the current case.

There are currently 15 supervisors across the country.

On his part, Mbanda appreciated the government for the confidence vested in him and his team and promised to take the commission to another level.

The Minister of Local Government, James Musoni, called for resource optimisation and decentralisation of the electoral process.

He urged cooperation and support of everyone to own and manage the elections.

Musoni said preparations for the 2013 parliamentary elections were underway, citing ongoing staff training

An accomplished academic, Karangwa has been at the helm of the commission since 2003, overseeing two presidential elections and a referendum on the Constitution, besides parliamentary and local government elections.

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