Rwanda is set to hold its national election come August 4th, 2017. A race that has been marked with controversy following the incumbent President, Paul Kagame vying for a third term in office. His third run for the office was made possible after the changing of the country’s constitution that previously set the limit of the presidency to just two terms.
Although Paul Kagame remains popular among many voters across the country, the opposition sees things differently. So much so, that the electoral body in the country is concerned their dissent might spark strong emotions among their supporters leading to a charged and divided political environment in Rwanda.
To in a bid to prevent such a scenario, Rwanda’s National Elections Commission (NEC) want all presidential candidates social media activities monitored and if need be censored. The NEC has ruled that all presidential candidates social media accounts activities will pass through them first before any postings are allowed to reach the public.
As it works out if a presidential candidate wants to post a message on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube or website. The message will first pass through the NEC to judge if it is not politically inciting before it gets posted. The message will be under 48 hours delay before being allowed to post, during which the NEC will be reviewing its political ramifications.
The NEC argues that their action will prevent any “declarations, words, or acts” that could lead to the population to act in a manner that might result in insecurity and politically divide Rwandese.
These measures by the NEC will become active starting July 14th, ahead of the elections, which will take place on August 4th. As expected this move does not sit well with the country’s opposition and rightfully so, as they could cripple any attempt to criticize the incumbent president even on legitimate grounds.
The incumbent President Paul Kagame has been the helm of Rwanda’s leadership since 1994 and is currently serving his second term in office, which was supposed to be his last term. The country’s constitution had to be changed to allow Kagame to run for a third term.