29 January 2013

Rwanda: National Electoral Commission Proposals Should Be Embraced

Photo: F. Kanyesigye
Standing in line to vote (file photo).


PROPOSALS aimed at introducing electoral reforms ahead of parliamentary polls are another milestone in consolidating the electoral gains so far achieved.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has submitted a list of proposals to streamline the electoral process. The aim is to help the Commission preside over credible and transparent elections. These electoral reforms are tailored for the common good of Rwandans and to consolidate the democratisation achievements so far registered.

One of the most important proposals is the sensitisation of the population on their electoral rights through civic education. While the right to vote is widely recognised as a fundamental human right, this right is not fully enforced for millions of people around the world.

In the current law, voter registration has been compulsory. If you are 18 years and above, it is a legal obligation meaning that 'if you don't follow it, the law will punish you? But the electoral commission wants to change that. The argument is that it is better to educate people to exercise their civil right rather than presenting it as if it's a law.

Civil rights are inherent. People, out of their conviction should attach great value to their vote. Their vote is a key to whether their needs will be met. It's their vote that will determine if they have the right leaders to address their needs and challenges. So sensitising them that voting or abstaining, greatly impacts on their well being is important. They will realise that without voting they are putting their lives and the future of their country at stake.

And voting starts with registration in order to be eligible to vote. These are essential tenets for a stable democracy and prosperity. There is no country that has achieved prosperity without stability. Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his/her country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

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