The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairperson, Prof Kalisa Mbanda, has called on local government officials not to interrupt, but help those who want signatures to get approval of being a president candidate willing to join presidential berth in order to avoid a blame game between both sides.
He was speaking at the General Meeting with local leaders in the Northern Province about the preparations of the upcoming presidential elections slated for August 4th.
The meeting brought together different officials from Northern Province including local leaders, clerics, Private Sector Federation (PSF) security representatives from Rwanda Defense Force and Rwanda National Police.
Prof Mbanda said, “Those who want signatures at different parts of the country should not feel uncomfortable with local leaders’ treatment instead of helping them during the process of searching signatures. But they should not go to any place as if they are going to the market, bar or restaurant.
Instead, it is important that they inform the administration from the place where they are going to hold the signature search process before they do anything so that they can get help in one way or another where needed.”
However, Prof Mbanda has warned local leaders to be careful about those who want signatures at their respective responsible districts or sectors and make sure they are doing it accordingly.
He pointed at some soon-to-be candidates who travel at different sectors without informing the administration and start to pay residents some money in secret so they get their signatures, “it against the law and a form of corruption”.
So far, three have expressed their will to contest for the presidential berth, they include Gilbert Mwenedata, Philippe Mpayimana and Diane Rwigara, the daughter of deceased billionaire Assinapol Rwigara
During the meeting, Northern Governor Jean Claude Musabyimana said, “it is our responsibility as local leaders to do all our best and join efforts to make the upcoming presidential elections happen successfully from the very beginning to the end”.
To add, “We are therefore ready to help those who are in the process of searching signatures from the community in our region that can allow them successfully submit their candidacy ahead of the upcoming elections”.
According to National Electoral Commission (NEC), each date has its meaning ahead of the upcoming elections and the commission calls the general public to stay updated of what happens at each of the dates.
Publication of provisional voter register: Not later than June 3rd
June 12th -23rd: Submission of candidacy at the National Electoral Commission Head quarters
June 27th: Announcing the provisional approved list of president candidates
July 7th: The final approved list of president Candidates
Publication of final voter register: Not later than July 20th
July 14th -August 3rd: Electoral campaign to eligible and approved candidates
August 3rd: Elections in Diaspora
August 4th: Elections in Rwanda
To help them do their work without any interruption, Military people, police, nurses of the Ministry of Health, voluntary Red Cross first aid givers, Journalists, NEC employees and observers will be allowed to vote at any polling station where they will be facilitated to vote as soon as possible so that they go straight back to continue their duties.
However, this does not mean that they are not concerned with registering to the voting list at their respective nearest places of residence or shift themselves using ICT-based way through their cell phones or going to NEC website to shift themselves to another voting list depending on their nearest place of residence.
The 2017 presidential elections turn up is believed to rise to over 7 million people who are allowed to vote, meaning an increase of over 2 million people have newly registered to take part at the upcoming elections slated for August 4th.
By Fred Irakoze