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Mushikiwabo Takes On Electoral Commission Over Social Media Directives

Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, who also serves as Government Spokesperson, is against the directive demanding candidates to seek approval from the by Rwanda National Electoral Commission (NEC) for each campaign message they craft, before posting it on social media platforms.

NEC issued a long list of Dos and Don’ts for candidates during the August Presidential elections.

One of them was of candidates sharing their campaign messages with NEC. Then NEC would review the messages and decide whether they should use them or not, according to Charles Munyaneza, NEC’s executive secretary.

The campaign messages requiring approval before they are posted on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram or on their websites include photographs, videos and text. “Sharing with NEC before expressing ourselves is problematic!” Minister Mushikiwabo said. “Let Rwandans air views on elections, then the law takes its course, if needed!”

Mushikiwabo was engaging a debate on twitter about the directives. “She said no offence to NEC, but Rwandans should express themselves freely on social media in election season. Our laws target abuse not voice!”

NEC is an independent entity, and her views may or may not influence the body’s decisions. NEC had explained that the directives were meant to prevent crime such as hate messages during the elections.

For Mushikiwabo, “Prevent abuse: yes, censor: No!”

Earlier, the leader of the Democratic Green Party had said he would contest the directive, particularly article 39 demanding the messages be shared with NEC 48 hours before they are posted.

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