By Jean d’Amour Mugabo
Rwanda is heading into polls early September to elect members of the senate, according to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
NEC Executive Secretary Charles Munyaneza told Pan African Visions on Thursday that the exact dates of the elections are yet to be fixed but will be communicated soon.
“Senatorial elections will be held early September. I would remind the citizens that they are not general elections but concerns electoral colleges,’ he said.
Munyaneza added, however, that NEC has to inform the general public about the senate’s elections and its responsibilities as the Upper House of the bicameral Parliament.
“We have started a voter education programme. We have prepared training manuals, we have trainers’ teams around the county and we have concluded the training of trainers. They are all around teaching the citizens. We also want to put in place a particular plan for media communications,” he said.
Rwanda’s senate consists of 26 members and 30% seats must go to women as stipulated by the Constitution of 2003 amended in 2015.
Article 80 states that among the 26 senators, 12 are elected by specific electoral colleges in accordance with the national administrative entities, eight are appointed by the President of the Republic, four senators are designated by the forum of political organisations while two seats go to academician community.
Elected and appointed senators serve a five-year term renewable once.
The Senate in particular monitors the application of fundamental principles specified in Article 10 and that of the provisions of Articles 56 and 57 of the Constitution.
Powers of the Senate in legislative matters include voting on the revision or amendment of the Constitution; organic laws; laws approving international treaties and agreements on armistice, peace, accession to international organisations; and laws on defence and national security.
Rwanda’s senatorial elections follow the general elections of the Lower House parliamentarians held in September 2018 in which the ruling Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and allied six parties won 74% equivalent to 40 seats out of 53 contested for in the general elections.
Liberal Party (PL) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) respectively won 9% and 7% equivalent to five and four seats. Two opposition parties, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR) and PS-Imberakuri, secured each two seats in the Lower House, after winning 5% ballots as the minimum Constitutional requirement for a party or independent candidate to enter the Parliament.