Rwanda Focus (Kigali)

Rwanda: Preparation of Deputies' Elections Well Advanced

Officials from the National Electoral Commission (NEC) have announced that the preparations for the elections of members of the chamber of deputies in Parliament, to be held next September, are almost completed.

NEC chairman Mbanda Kalisa said that the commission has finished training all those who will have a role to play in those elections and the list of voters is being established. "We are going to use for the first time online registration of voters, which will facilitate those living in the Diaspora and those who have busy schedules to register easily," he said.

He added that this will not pose any problem as the identity of the voters will be verified before their names are put on the list. "Every Rwandans have the right to vote. However, everyone is not put on the list just because he is Rwandan. We have first to verify their age and to check if his right has not been removed by any law and/or court sentence. This will require us to contact different partners, including embassies, to get clear and trustworthy information."

Kalisa also said that NEC is still considering the possibility of online voting. "I cannot guarantee that this will be for next year; we are still looking into it, and we view it as possibility to facilitate access to our services."

NEC has 65,000 volunteers countrywide who have already been trained.

Concerning the budget to be used during those elections, NEC's executive secretary Charles Munyaneza said that it will entirely be provided by the government. "In this fiscal year we have been given a total of Frw 4.5 billion for the preparations as the elections will take place in mid-September," he said, adding that in NEC's budget plans for next fiscal year, a total of Frw 8 bn will be allocated to MPs' elections.

At the previous deputies' elections in 2008, the turnout was of 5.2 million and next year, 6.3 million voters are expected.

The current deputies were elected on September 15, 2008 and started their 5-year term on October 8. As stipulated in the Constitution, they can renew their mandate without limit, contrary to Senators who are entitled to only one mandate of 8 years.

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