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RWANDA: Legislative elections kick off

KIGALI, 29 September 2003 (IRIN) - Rwanda's legislative elections, the first since it gained independence from Belgium in 1963, began on Monday with candidates from eight parties and 17 independents in contention.

The two-tier parliament will comprise 80 members of the Chamber of Deputies and 26 in the Senate, the upper house. Monday's voting was by youth associations and disabled groups. The youth are voting for two places in the chamber and the disabled one. On Tuesday, other Rwandans will vote for 53 deputies from a field of seven political parties and candidates running on independent tickets.

Preliminary results for the successful candidates are expected Wednesday. On Thursday, President Paul Kagame is to appoint eight senators while local government officials will elect 12. Political parties are to appoint four senators, while colleges and universities will elect the remaining two.

Also on Thursday, local government women leaders will elect 24 women representatives to parliament.

Theme(s): (IRIN) Governance

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