Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) has castigated a decision taken by National Electoral Commission (NEC)to censor presidential candidates’ social media messages and assured citizens of their rights saying NEC has no right to interfere with citizens’ freedom of expression.
“RURA would like to inform the public that in accordance with the ICT Law and Media Law, the National Electoral Commission has no mandate to regulate or interrupt the use of social media by citizens,” reads part of the statement released by RURA.
“RURA as the statutory regulator has not had any discussions with NEC on this subject and would like to reaffirm the right of citizens to express themselves on social media and other ICT platforms, while respecting existing laws,” adds the statement.
The statement is addition the comments of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo who in no uncertain terms expressed thus; “I strongly respect the National Electoral Commission but I disagree with licensing Rwandans on social media messages… majority of Rwandans are mature and law-abiding; the few abusers should face the law, instead of restricting citizens’ views,” she tweeted.
NEC Chairman Prof Kalisa Mbanda announced a plan to censor presidential candidates’ social media messages last week saying the regulations incorporate clauses restricting individual supporters from holding campaigns on social media except when that individual was declared among the team members allowed to campaign for a particular presidential candidate.
He said that a candidate must present the campaign team to NEC prior to the campaigns and members of the team required to submit all social media messages to NEC for censor before sharing with the public.