President Paul Kagame is expected to face-off his opponents Frank Habineza and Phillipe Mpayimana for the first time in a national televised debate, the Director General of state broadcaster (RBA), Arthur Assimwe, has announced.
Assimwe was speaking on Thursday afternoon to the press at the National Electoral Commission (NEC) alongside the Chairman of the commissions Prof. Kalisa Mbanda and his Executive Secretary Charles Munyaneza.
This is the first time in the Rwandan history that contenders of the highest job in the country are going into such a debate, face to face.
“We are organising a [televised] debate,” Assimwe said, but he could not divulge into details. He promised to share the details “after streamlining the required logistics…we will give you the details.”
He however said that a forum has been set to discuss and determine the date, the time and the moderator of the debate in two weeks time after or between the campaigns. Frank Habineza told Taarifa later in the evening that he has been informed about the face-off, but he could not reveal the details as well.
During the debate, Assimwe said, “candidates or representatives of candidates will have one debate where they will elaborate on their manifesto and then debate about the promises to Rwandans.” “It is usually referred to as a debate, but we want to call it a Rwandan conversation…and we will ask them different questions.”
This debate will be syndicated as well, he said. He said “We are going to discuss with other television channels and radio stations to formulate a mechanism which will allow the debate to be aired on different platforms to reach a large mass.”
No defamation, no hate speech, no personal attacks, no ethnic language, and no divisive language allowed. No favouritism too. All candidates will receive equal airtime and will have equal opportunity to share their message with Rwandans, present their manifestos and debate between themselves.
Except for Philippe Mpayimana, Frank Habineza and the incumbent Paul Kagame, have appeared on the National Television but had not yet been allowed by NEC to discuss their manifesto.
RBA will allocate each candidate 70 seconds of publicity, six times a day and 30 minutes once every three days.
During the press conference, the President of the Commission called upon all Rwandans to continue supporting their candidates by attending the rallies and also voting peacefully in the election. “The contribution of all Rwandans is of paramount importance, since it gives value to not only the candidates, but also the main activity, the election.
That is why we appeal to Rwandans to support the pre-election activities until the election date, in peace.”
He however encouraged everyone to exercise civility and also denounce or report anything going wrong.
According to NEC provisional figures, 6,888,592 voters from both the diaspora and the whole country are expected to vote. Women dominate the list with 54%, while men are 46%. Of the total, youth make 45%.
Campaign will take place in Rwanda and in all the Rwandan embassies.
NEC says 307 observers among whom 31 are from Africa, Asia and Europe have been accredited to follow the election and 10% of them are from EU.
Photos by Pacific Himbaza