Rwanda: Legislative Polls - What Is the Way Forward for Independents?

Photo: New Times
Women in parliament (file photo).
4 September 2018
analysis

Independent candidates who participated in the just-concluded legislative elections have welcomed the polls results even though none of them will be able to win a seat in the next parliament.

With 70 per cent of the votes tallied, results announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Monday night showed a dismal performance by the independents - with none of them even got 1 per cent.

According to NEC Chairperson Prof. Kalisa Mbanda, from the tallied results, it is mathematically not possible for any of the four independent candidates to make it to parliament as none is likely to garner the required 5 per cent threshold.

Speaking to The New Times, independent candidate Ellissam Salim Ntibanyendera said he has no qualms over the partial poll results, much as he is likely not to win.

He said he is respectful of the will of the people, adding that he has no reason to doubt that that will was reflected in the results.

"I can't really say that I've lost because it was not really a competition. For me, it was a platform to put across my opinions and I'm really grateful for the people who took their time to listen and support me throughout the journey," he said, adding that his hope was for his ideas to be somehow mainstreamed into the national political discourse.

Ntibanyendera added that he remains a happy and proud Rwandan ready to continue his political contribution in other leadership positions.

He currently the chairperson of Tubakunde, an umbrella body that takes care of children with mental disability and also heads HVP Gatagara/Humura, another institution that provides care to children with disability.

Despite, the dismal performance in the parliamentary elections, he still has the desire to make it for the next elections and from now he will start preparing for new strategies that he says will enable him to get the required 5 per cent.

He appreciated the "peaceful campaign and equal respect afforded to all candidates during campaigns".

Candidate Philippe Mpayimana, who is also the former presidential aspirant, also said he respects the polling results as announced by the electoral commission.

He is ready to support the winners.

"Not making it to the parliament as an independent is just normal because our democracy is still work in progress. Not many people are ready to support an individual candidate but we are making headway. As the country continues to grow, our (independents) voice will get louder," he said.

Mpayimana said that he can't give up on politics because he would be letting down his supporters.

He was however not clear if would contest in the next legislative elections to be held in five years, but he expressed his willingness to continue voice his opinions on matters he consider beneficial to citizens.

Candidate Ally Hussein Sebagenzi, said that he would respect the results much as it is disappointing, given the effort he put into the campaign.

Like his colleagues however, Sebagenzi, who is a leader in the Association of Muslims in Rwanda (AMUR), this is a launch pad for his carrier in politics and he will only increase the momentum in his political participation.

"Even outside the parliament I believe I can make a contribution to society through different platforms. I will continue to air my opinions on what needs to be improved or applauded," said Sebagenzi, who is also a youth leader in Nyarugenge District.

Sebagenzi also expressed his disappointment to see that none of the independent candidate is likely to win a seat, even if it is not him, which he said would have done a lot to encourage them.

He says that he is yet to decide if he will run for the next election saying that he would wait for the final results which he said will inform his decision to run as an independent in the future.

The fourth independent, Janvier Nsengiyumva said he still had an issue with the discrepancy that arose when his name was misspelt on some of the ballot papers, adding that he would comment about the outcome after this is cleared.

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