Sep 19, 2008

World - Women to rule Rwanda parliament ( G.Read)

Rwanda will be the first country where women will outnumber men in parliament, preliminary election results show.

Women have taken 44 out of 80 seats so far and the number could rise if three seats reserved for the disabled and youth representatives go to females.

Rwanda, whose post-genocide constitution ensures a 30% quota for female MPs, already held the record for the most women in parliament.

The ruling party coalition won 78% of seats in Monday's vote.

Indirect elections for women's quota seats took place on Tuesday and votes for two youth representatives and a disabled quota seat are taking place on Wednesday and Thursday.

It is the second parliamentary elections since the genocide of 1994 when some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered by Hutu militias in just 100 days.

Elected seats: 53
* RPF: 42 seats, 78.76% of the vote
* Social Democratic Party: 7 seats, 13.12% of the vote
* Liberal Party: 4 seats, 7.5% of the vote
Quota seats: 27 (women 24, youth 2, disabled 1)

Women total: 44 seats, 55% of parliament
Preliminary results Rwanda National Electoral Commission

President Paul Kagame was instrumental in establishing the Tutsi-led 's Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) - the rebel force which took power and ended the genocide.

The BBC's Geoffrey Mutagoma in the capital, Kigali, says the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party have conceded defeat.

In the outgoing parliament, 48.8% of MPs were women - the world's highest rate. It is now set to be at least 55%.

Women who stood in seats reserved for female candidates were not allowed to represent a party.

"The problems of women are understood much better, much better by women themselves," voter Anne Kayitesi told the BBC's Focus on Africa.

"You see men, especially in our culture, men used to think that women are there to be in the house, cook food, look after the children... but the real problems of a family are known by a woman and when they do it, they help a country to get much better."

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