Elections to choose one candidate who will represent public universities and institutions of higher learning in the country’s third Senate kicked off this morning at select venues all across the country.
Academic and research staff will choose who among Pierre Claver Kayumba and Cyprien Niyomugabo will represent public universities in what the National Electoral Commission says is a highly competitive race.
The process will continue tomorrow where it will be determined through elections who among Ephrem Kanyarukiga, Innocent Nkundabatware and Emmanuel Cyeze Munyamasoko will go on to represent private universities in the Senate.
Senators elected from public and private universities and institutions of higher learning are required to be academicians or researchers and are elected by their peers by a secret ballot.
Today’s elections are part of the process that began in July and is expected to end when the President of the Republic announces another eight who will join the Senate on his appointment.
Both the elected and appointed senators serve for a five-year term, renewable once.
The Executive Secretary of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Charles Munyaneza told The New Times in an exclusive interview that overall, the preparations and turn up were good saying that this has so far been a unique election.
“When you look at the results, you can see that there was a high level of competition. We could see it even during the campaigning period that it would be a tight race in most places because there were good turn up and lots of enthusiasm to vote,” he said.
Munyaneza said that this competitiveness exhibited in the current elections is good for democracy growth.
“They basically shared the votes, the margins were too tight. This is great for both the voters know what they want and the candidate because it shows the level of his or her competence,” he said.
The Senatorial elections will usher in the country’s Third Senate, replacing the current one that has been in place since 2011.
Rwanda has a bicameral parliament, consisting of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies.
The Senate is made up of 26 members; including 12 members who represent the country’s four provinces and the City of Kigali and are picked through electoral colleges, and eight senators appointed by the President of the Republic.
Four senators are designated by the Consultative Forum of Political Organisations, one senator represents public universities and higher learning institutions, while another one is picked from private universities and higher learning institutions.