Rwanda: NEC Ready for Flawless Referendum

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The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman, Prof. KalisaMbanda has recently said that Rwanda is prepared to have a free and fair election on the constitution referendum, slated for December 17 and 18.
While addressing a press conference at the NEC head office, Prof. Kalisa said that NEC has what it takes in place to ensure a success of the voting exercise and the election final results of the people’s voice on the new 2015 constitution will be announced with two days after the voting date.
“We have prepared Rwandans and educated them on their rights to vote for the constitution. We have done this with the help of volunteers and teaching aids, which have been used at all levels. We are now ready to do our job as usual” Kalisa said.“NEC expects 6.4 million Rwandans to vote, the commission have already supplied voters’ cards, we have ballot boxes ready in stores and we shall also be printing ballot papers early next week”.
The National Electoral Commission has allocated Rwf2b (US$2.6m) for upcoming referendum and close to 68,000 election volunteers are expected to assist the commission.
Charles Munyaneza, NEC Executive Secretary said the budget is not a problem since a number of facilities have been put in place since the last constitution referendum held in 2003.
“There are no other extra expenses as before. We have built institutions and facilities over the years and what is needed now is emphasis on sensitization through local governments, public institutions, parastatals and faith-based organisations” Munyaneza said.
Though Rwandans in diaspora will be able to participate in the voting, some of them will be in Rwanda for the national dialogue and holidays but the commission says that they will have to present a travel document showing temporal stay in the country or by providing a consular voting card.
The Constitution says any changes to Article 101 on presidential term limits can only be endorsed by the people through a referendum.
The referendum follows appeals from members of the public who petitioned Parliament to change the Constitution to allow President Kagame continue stewardship of the country beyond 2017 when his second seven-year term expires.
The Constitution says any changes to Article 101 on presidential term limits can only be endorsed by the people through a referendum.
In the revised Constitution, the lawmakers maintained presidential term limits, reducing the length of a single term from seven down to five years – renewable only once – but these changes would be preceded by a transitional period of a seven-year presidential term.
In 2014, a report by a global electoral watchdog concluded that Rwanda’s parliamentary elections held in 2013 were the best organised in Africa going by the index on the polls held in 2013.

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