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Rwanda to pay less for 2017 elections

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Rwanda and the government are sticking to their proposed cost-cutting plan for the 2017 presidential election, according to latest information released in Dec.13 by government officials. Rwanda is to fund 95% percent of the budget and only 5% will come from development partners.

It has been known for some time that the election could  cost about Rwf500 million less than the amount spent on the election in 2010.Earlier in August, the NEC Executive Secretary Charles Munyaneza had announced that the election would cost Rwf5.5 billion (Approx. US$6.9 million) compared to the US$8.7 million equivalent spent on the last elections in 2010.

But at a press briefing at the Prime Minister’s Office in Kigali on dec.13, the Minister of State for Socio-Economic Development, Vincent Munyeshyaka, said the government had allocated Rwf5.4 billion for the polls. He said the money should fully fund the elections.  Under the current exchange rate that difference of US$2.1 million translates into approximately Rwf1.7 billion which is a much bigger saving.

According to Munyaneza’s projections, the cost-cuts would be realised from savings on cost of materials required for the election. He explained that NEC was this time procuring fewer election materials compared to 2010 presidential polls when NEC had to “spend money on almost everything”. The government also is banking on an army of electoral volunteers to help in the election without expecting any wages.This should lower the cost of the exercise.

Munyaneza said the proposed budget includes items like trainings for youth, women, media and people with disabilities involved in the election and production of election awareness campaign materials.

Rwanda has about 6.6 million voters on the roll. This number is likely to go up following the conclusion in May 2017 of a voter register update that started in November.

There were only 5.2 million voters in the 2010 presidential elections.

Election roadmap

According to the Election Roadmap announced on Tuesday Dec.13, Rwanda will hold its presidential election on Friday August 4, 2017.

This will be the nation’s third multiparty presidential elections since the RPF led by incumbent President Paul Kagame came to power in 1994 after defeating government forces that had perpetrated a four-month campaign of genocide against the Tutsi.

The Rwanda president is this time to be elected for a seven-year term once again. But changes to the constitution that were approved through a constitutional referendum December 18, 2015 allow President Kagame to run for a `third term’.

From 2024 when the next election is held, the president will be elected for shorter fiveyear terms, and will be eligible for no more than two terms. President Kagame will still be eligible to run in 2024 under the new constitution.  Kagame has been president since 2000. He was first elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2010.But he has always been the effective force behind the government since the Rwanda Patriotic Forces (RPF) took power in 1994 with him as the commander.

According to details of the 2017 election, Rwandans living abroad will vote on August 3, 2017, a day before the general election inside Rwanda.

The National Electoral Commission will be receiving applications for presidential candidates starting on June 5 to 14, 2017. The final list of candidates will be announced on June 27. Campaigns for the qualified candidates will officially begin on July 14 and end on election eve, August 3. The details were given to journalists at the Prime Minister’s Office in Kigali on Dec.13 by the Minister of State for Socio-Economic Development, Vincent Munyeshyaka. The final results from the election are expected to be announced on August 16, 2017.

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editor@independent.co.ug

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