Home Rwanda Decides 2024 Elections 2024: Surge In Number Of Independent Candidates Signals Inclusiveness As Greens Eye More Seats

Elections 2024: Surge In Number Of Independent Candidates Signals Inclusiveness As Greens Eye More Seats

by Edmund Kagire
12:12 am

More political parties and individuals candidates on Monday submitted credentials to NEC.

The surge in the number of independent candidates looking to compete in the forthcoming general elections scheduled for July is a sign that more Rwandans understand their democratic rights and goes to show how the polls will be more inclusive- more than ever.

More than 40 independent candidates vying for Parliamentary seats, representing different categories and interest groups, as well as those looking to compete for Presidency on Monday continued with the exercise of submitting their credentials to the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The increase in the number of prospective candidates for the forthcoming polls, especially independent ones, affirms how elections and democracy in Rwanda have evolved to become more inclusive, according to NEC Chairperson, Oda Gasinzigwa.

“We are seeing a huge number of Rwandans coming to express their interest to contest in the elections, especially as independent candidates unlike the previous elections. This to us is a sign that more Rwandans are more enlightened, they understand their democratic rights and duties,” Gasinzigwa said.

“They are coming in enthusiastically, clearly showing that they know what they want. Many of them have gone around the country gathering signatures and you can see that this is an exercise they are looking forward to being part of, and that shows us that Rwanda as a country has evolved democratically,” Gasinzigwa said.

Among those that submitted their credentials on Monday include political parties, independent contestants and prospective candidates seeking to represent women, youth and Persons with Disabilities, among other interest groups.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) submitted a list of 66 names of prospective Parliamentary candidates, including 29 females, while the party unanimously decided to back President Kagame in the Presidential polls.

NEC started receiving candidatures on Friday last week.

Speaking on behalf of the party, Dr. Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, said that the names were arrived at after a countrywide exercise, bringing together party members from all corners of the country, who also unanimously made a decision to back President Paul Kagame, the ruling party, RPF-Inkotanyi flagbearer in the July 14 and 15 polls.

Also on Monday, the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda (DGPR), submitted its proposed candidate for the Presidential election and a list of 65 prospective candidates who want to become Members of Parliament.

Frank Habineza, the president of the party and flagbearer for the second time running, told the press after submitting his candidature and party credentials that they are eyeing a bigger share of national power in terms of the number of MPs they can send to Parliament.

Flanked by dozens of Green Party members who escorted him to NEC headquarters in Kiyovu, Habineza said that they are anticipating more inclusive polls more than ever, with his party looking to increase the number of legislators it has in Parliament for the next five years.

Habineza, who is a member of the current Parliament, said they are more hopeful to garner more positions this year.

“We are more hopeful for the forthcoming elections. Our party has grown. In 2017, we were just four years-old after registering our party. However, we have been around for nearly 15 years and we believe we are politically mature to compete favourably,”

“We have party organs and committees at all levels, in the whole country, including women and youth. In 2017, we were not part of the government but today we have even members of parliament, after contesting and getting five percent in the 2018 parliamentary elections. We believe this year we stand even more chances,” Habineza said.

The Rwanda Greens flagbearer is expected to submit one more document to complete his file, which is a certificate to show that he has no citizenship for any other country. Habineza said that he had previously submitted it with NEC in the previous election but the NEC chairperson said that they still have up to May 30 to submit it.

Several other candidates did not have all the requirements but Gasinzigwa said that they can still go and get the missing documents and come back to the commission.

Gasinzigwa, told the prospective candidates that NEC receiving their requirements doesn’t mean that they have been confirmed as candidates. The electoral body will scrutinize their submissions to verify if they fulfil all of them before adding them to the list will be published on June 6.

Some of the individuals who did not fulfil all the requirements, such as Emmanuel Ndejuru, an independent candidate who didn’t have all the required documents, was sent back to look for the missing documents. The exercise which started on May 17 will close on May 30. The provisional list will be published on June 6 while the final list comes out on June 14.

Françoise Mukandekezi, who submitted her candidature to represent women in Parliament, said that over the past 30 years, Rwanda has progressed tremendously particularly in regard to empowering and giving women and girls opportunities and that is even more evident in terms of representation.

Mukandekezi is eyeing a seat in Parliament.

“Women today have a right to go out there and compete favourably, study, do business and participate in national development. Having served in different capacities over the years, I believe this is the time to continue contributing in a different role as a lawmaker,” Mukandekezi said.

Jean Nepomuscene Dusingizimana, an independent candidate seeking to get a seat in parliament, said that getting the 600 signatures was not an easy fit but he is confident that he will be able to get the necessary votes to get him to Parliament.

“Coming here and delivering my credentials, regardless of whether I belong to any party and the manner in which I was welcomed by the National Electoral Commission goes to show that every Rwandan has a right to compete in the elections,”

“As a young person, I believe this is a great opportunity for me to compete. I will go out and share my plans with Rwandans if I make it to the list and I will ask them that after voting President Kagame for Presidency, they vote me as their representative in Parliament,” the 35-year prospective parliamentary candidate said.

The exercise which kicked off last Friday, starting with President Paul Kagame, who submitted his candidature as the flag-bearer for the ruling party, RPF-Inkotanyi, will continue on Tuesday, with more independent candidates and prospective women and youth representatives submitting their credentials.

With two candidatures received, NEC is also expected to receive six more or so files from people looking to contest for Presidency. Gasinzigwa said that every Rwandan has a right to participate in the elections, as a candidate and as a voter.

Electoral campaigns will commence on June 22 to July 13, ahead of the polls scheduled for July 14 in the Diaspora and 15 countrywide.

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