Rwanda: NEC Updates Electoral Roll Ahead of Parliamentary Polls

Photo: New Times
National Electoral Commission officials conduct voter registration.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) says it will soon avail the electoral register for voters to update personal details ahead of the parliamentary elections slated for September 2-3, 2018.

Speaking to The New Times on Monday, Charles Munyaneza, the Executive Secretary of the commission, said the process to review the electoral register is already underway and that, starting next month, the exercise will be conducted in all the villages across the country.

"From May 3-26, electoral rolls will be at the village level and at all Rwanda's embassies abroad and people will be expected to verify and update the information on the electoral roll," he said.

He said the commission will facilitate every Rwandan to ensure they exercise their civic right.

"We are mobilising citizens to register and know in advance their respective polling stations. We are also reaching out to students at institutions of higher learning and secondary schools," he said.

Munyaneza said that, as was the case during the presidential poll last year, voters will again be able to use their phones to update their electoral details.

"We will be opening the digital system next week," he said adding that NEC has since "upgraded the functionality and security of the system".

NEC is also conducting civic education whereby officials sensitise members of the public to participate in the forthcoming elections.

The civic education, officials say, will continue at the village level, the smallest administrative unit, until the polling day.

"We have a big number of people who move a lot like those migrating to Kigali and other urban areas in search for jobs, people residing in rented homes and many other categories... all these people have to declare their new residence so as to update their details on the electoral roll," he said.

Up to 6,897,076 voters registered for the presidential elections held in August last year, with over 98 per cent of them eventually taking part in the poll.

NEC says it expects at least seven million people to participate in the upcoming parliamentary vote.

Isaie Mbonyinshuti, the executive secretary of Mataba Sector in Musanze District, said they are currently sensitising young people who are at least 18 years old and are yet to get their national IDs to do so to be able to participate in the forthcoming elections.

"We are creating awareness about the parliamentary elections through community meetings at the village level. More people now are civically engaged and enlightened; most of them know their polling stations, so it should not be a difficult task for us," he said.

"There are also people who tend to move from one place to another and these are of priority to us in the ongoing exercise," Mbonyinshuti said.

He said that, unlike in the past when people were more inclined to participate in presidential polls only, more people now understand the role of parliament and are willing to participate in picking their representatives.

"People now know the parliamentarians because they have been coming to them to help address some of the problems at the grassroots, which is a departure from the past when MPs would only come to the grassroots during campaigns," he added.

However, Clarisse Musanabera, a resident of Niboye Sector in Kicukiro District, said local authorities need to scale up their sensitisation campaign to ensure that more people come out to exercise their right to vote come the polling day.

"There are still some who consider presidential elections the only worthy elections," she said.

Fifty-three members of the Lower House will be picked through universal suffrage, while 27 slots are reserved for special interest groups and candidates under this category will be voted for through electoral colleges. The special interest groups are women (24 seats), youth (two seats) and persons living with disabilities (one seat).

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