Rwandans living in Uganda yesterday picked their preferred new Members of Parliament in Kampala ahead of the main vote in Rwanda today.
The one-day exercise took place at the Rwandan High Commission offices in Kitantate, a city suburb.
Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, the Rwandan ambassador, said Uganda has an estimated 8,000 registered Rwandan voters.
By press time, we were unable to establish how many voted.
“We decided to put the elections of all the people living in the diaspora to Sunday [in order] to give an opportunity for all eligible voters to vote,” he said, adding: “If we had put the voting on a working day, it would be difficult because we are not responsible for giving a holiday [in a foreign country] as it is in Rwanda.”
Rwandan president Paul Kagame last month dissolved Parliament following the lapse of the legislators’ five-year tenure.
“We will elect new MPs…this should not be ‘business as usual’. They will have to build on what their predecessors have achieved and put more efforts where we still have noticeable gaps,” Mr Kagame said, according to message posted on Republic of Rwanda website.
Article 79 of the Rwandan Constitution gives powers to the President to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies at least 30 days and not more than 60 days before the expiry of its members’ term of office.
The Chamber of Deputies is the lower house of the two-tier national legislature of Rwanda.
With a population of 12 million, Rwanda has 7.2 million registered voters and an 80-member Parliament.
Fifty-three of these are sponsored by political parties, 22 are women representatives, two are youth representatives and one legislator represents people with disabilities.
Ambassador Mugambage yesterday said the embassy will hand over the results to Rwanda Electoral Commission for final compilation.
“The idea is that whoever has a right to vote should still vote,” he said.