The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has closed receiving candidates seeking to enter the upper house of Parliament, the Senate which comprises 26 members.
A total of 68 candidates have submitted their names vying for 12 provincially electable seats.
However, according to NEC executive secretary Charles Munyaneza, none of the Senators in the outgoing House is seeking reelection.
Of the 12 electable seats, Kigali City has 1 seat, Northern Province gets 2 seats – while Eastern, Southern and Western, each has 3 seats.
The formula for seats is determined by the population and expanse of the regions – with the biggest provinces also most inhabitants getting more seats.
The remaining 14 seats are filled in the following formula:
- 8 seats are reserved for the President of the Republic, whose previous appointments have included elderly figures and fading politicians. It is usually publicly considered as their retirement package.
- 4 seats are filled by the Forum for Political Parties, a body where all registered parties meet. Currently 11 parties are members including the dominant RPF of President Paul Kagame.
- 2 seats are for universities where academics elect a candidate from among themselves: one seat goes to public institutions, while the other is for private universities.
Former presidents automatically also became senators, but they have to ask formally in letter to the sitting President of the Senate.
However, their are caveats: the former president should have left office with integrity. Today, there is only Pasteur Bizimungu as former president, who left office in 2000, was prosecuted and jailed over divisionism and other cases.
Bizimungu was pardoned later by President Paul Kagame, who was also his vice president before the former was forced to resign. He doesn’t qualify due to his jail term.
For anyone to seek to be a senator, you have to be above 40 years. Yet, to be head of state, you have to be 35, and 21 for Lower Chamber of Deputies.
The upcoming senate polls will take place September 17-18.
Previously, senators served for single 8-year terms. However, following the constitutional amendment of 2015, senators will now serve for a 5-year term renewable once.
It remains to be seen what the ruling establishment will do with people like Bernard Makuza, the outgoing senate president. He was among Kagame’s appointees in 2011.