Parliamentary Chamber: Chambre des Députés


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  Chambre des Députés

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  29 September 2003
2 October 2003

Purpose of elections:

  For the first time since the new Constititution was adopted, elections were held for all the members of the newly-elected Chamber of Deputies.

Background and outcome of elections:

  From 29 September to 2 October 2003, Rwandans went to the polls to elect the members of the two new houses of Parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The legislative elections marked an end of the transitional system in force in Rwanda since the 1994 crisis. This crisis had resulted in around one million deaths, mainly Tutsis and moderate Hutus, according to estimates by the authorities. It was the first time since the country became independent in 1962 that MPs were chosen by direct universal suffrage.

On 26 May 2003, the Rwandan people had adopted a new Constitution by referendum. Subsequently, on 25 August 2003, the first pluralistic presidential election since independence was held by direct and secret universal ballot. Voting ended in an overwhelming victory for incumbent President Paul Kagame (95.05 per cent of the votes).

The electoral campaign, which began on 5 September 2003 for the some 230 candidates vying for the 53 seats in the Chamber of Deputies to be filled by direct universal suffrage, did not have much of an impact on voters. The main opposition parties and candidates had been banned or disqualified before voting began.

Legislative elections lasted three days. On the first day mini-committees elected two representatives for youth and one representative for the handicapped. On the second day, 53 deputies were elected by direct universal suffrage, while electoral colleges appointed 12 senators and 24 women deputies on the last day.

Turnout amounted to 96.48 per cent of the 3.95 registered voters, according to data provided by the National Electoral Commission (CEN). However, this figure was challenged by observers, who stated that voters had not exactly turned out in droves.

The observation mission of the European Union, which comprised 68 observers, noted "serious" irregularities and "fraud" during the elections. However, it emphasized that the elections had taken place in a "calm and orderly manner" and considered that the vote "was an important step towards restoring lasting democracy". On the other hand, the OIF observation mission praised the conduct of the legislative elections and had not "noted any serious irregularity likely to call the election results into question".

According to the official CEN results, the Rwandan Patriotic Font (FPR) of President Kagame secured an absolute majority in the Chamber of Deputies with 58 seats out of 80. The list compiled by the FPR, which included representatives of four small coalition parties, took 40 out of the 53 seats attributed by direct universal suffrage and filled 18 of the remaining 27 seats set aside for representatives of women, youth and the handicapped. Two other parties viewed as FPR allies, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Liberal Party (PL), obtained 7 and 6 seats, respectively, out of the total of 53.

On 10 October 2003, the new Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate were elected at the inaugural session of Parliament. Mr. Vincent Biruta, President of the outgoing Transitional National Assembly, was elected President of the Senate, while Mr. Alfred Mukezamfura became the President of the Chamber of Deputies.

Round no 1 (29 September 2003): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 3 958 058
Voters 3 818 603 (96 %)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 58 001
Valid votes 3 760 602

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Votes %
Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) (and partners) 2 774 661 73.78
Social Democratic Party (PSD) 463 067 12.31
Liberal Party (PL) 396 978 10.56

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR) (and partners) 40
Social Democratic Party (PSD) 7
Liberal Party (PL) 6

  The figures on the distribution of seats reflect the results for the 53 directly elected seats.

Four parties have agreed to form a coalition with the Rwanda Patriotic Front (FPR):

  • Centrist Democratic Party (PDC): 3 seats
  • Islamic Democratic Party (PDI): 2 seats
  • Democratic Popular Union of Rwanda (UDPR) : 1 seat
  • Rwandan Socialist Party (PSR): 1 seat
Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 41
Women: 39
Percent of women: 48.75

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