Rwanda: The Electoral Commission Disqualifies Remaining Serious Presidential Candidates

Oda Gasinzigwa

On June 6, 2024, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Rwanda announced the preliminary list of candidates for the upcoming presidential election. The approved candidates are Paul Kagame of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Frank Habineza of the Green Party, and independent candidate Philippe Mpayimana. These candidates also competed in the 2017 elections.

NEC President Oda Gasinzigwa, speaking on national television, stated that other candidates did not meet the required criteria, particularly the necessary support signatures. The disqualified candidates include Herman Manirareba, Barafinda Sekikubo Fred, Habimana Thomas, Diane Shima Rwigara, Mbanda Jean, and Hakizimana Innocent.

According to NEC, here are the details on why these candidates were disqualified:

Herman Manirareba:

  • Failed to submit a list of 600 eligible voters supporting his candidacy.

Hakizimana Innocent:

  • Did not provide the minimum required 12 ID card holders from Nyagatare and Gatsibo districts.
  • Submitted incorrect ID numbers and mismatched names in Nyagatare, Gatsibo, and Kirehe districts.
  • Signatures included people who appeared on multiple lists with different signatures and some who claimed they never signed.

Barafinda Sekikubo Fred:

  • Failed to provide at least 12 ID card holders from specific districts including Nyabihu, Musanze, and others.
  • Submitted lists with names but no ID numbers and lists with ID numbers but no signatures.

Habimana Thomas:

  • Did not provide the minimum required 12 ID card holders from Nyaruguru, Kirehe, Nyamasheke, Bugesera, and Rwamagana districts.
  • Submitted nonexistent ID numbers and mismatched names, and some people claimed they never signed.

Diane Shima Rwigara:

  • Failed to submit a criminal clearance certificate and instead provided a court case copy.
  • Provided a birth certificate instead of proof of Rwandan nationality.
  • Did not provide at least 12 ID card holders from several districts including Kamonyi, Gatsibo, and others.
  • Submitted lists with nonexistent ID numbers and mismatched names.

Mbanda Jean:

  • Only collected support signatures in three districts (Gasabo, Bugesera, and Kicukiro) instead of the required 27 districts.

NEC announced that the collection of support signatures ended on May 30, 2024. Candidates who did not meet other requirements can submit missing documents within five working days after the preliminary list announcement. However, issues related to the collection of signatures are final and non-negotiable.

Observers note that the current Rwandan government does not allow strong opposition parties or candidates to compete fairly against the ruling party and President Kagame. It is widely believed that Kagame will be re-elected with more than 90% of the vote.