It’s a second term for 8 EALA representatives
All but one of Rwanda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) were re-elected for the next five years to represent the country at the regional House.
Of the nine delegates Rwanda is required to send to the Arusha –based regional parliament, only Claire Kayirangwa did not make it back as a joint parliamentary session sat yesterday to cast the vote.
Kayirangwa, who had been serving on the ticket of a coalition of political parties led by the RPF, did not feature on the list of nominees.
The new face is former Prime Minister, Pierre Celestin Rwigema, who returned last year from the United States after over a decade of self exile.
The new lawmakers represent different political parties and special interest groups, including the youth, women, and persons living with disabilities.
From the eight candidates who had been fronted by the coalition, four were elected, including Rwigema, Christopher Bazivamo, Patricia Hajabakiga, and Abdul Karim Harelimana.
Odette Nyiramirimo retained the Liberal Party (PL) flag after overwhelmingly defeating her rival Barnabe Nyamuganza as Jacqueline Muhongayire from Social Democratic Party (PSD) beat her challenger Clement Musangabatware, by a significant margin.
Dr James Ndahiro defeated Sharon Tumusiime to represent persons with disabilities while Valerie Nyirahabineza will again represent women council after beating Acquiline Niwemfura.
Straton Ndikuryayo retained the youth seat after defeating Cynthia Umurungi a youthful radio presenter.
The election was preceded by a four -minute campaign before the electorate (MPs and senators), and several government officials, friends and relatives of the aspirants.
The election was by secret ballot and immediately after the counting the results were announced by the Speaker, Rose Mukantabana in the presence of Senate President Dr Jean Damascene Ntawukuriryayo.
Some MPs elect who exclusively spoke to The New Times, commended the voters and pledged to serve the country wholeheartedly at the regional assembly, citing advocacy for the implementation of Common Market and Custom Union as the major areas of focus.
“We now have the problem of insecurity in Somalia, south Sudan and DRC; as the chairman of the commission on regional affairs and conflict resolution I will embark on encouraging negotiations between EALA and these countries to ensure peace prevalence in the region,” Abdul Karim Harelimana said in an interview.
He further observed that the conflicts in some regional countries had negatively impacted on the EAC, citing the Congolese refugees fleeing to Rwanda and Uganda.
Close to 10,000 refugees have in less than a month crossed into Rwanda fleeing the renewed clashes in the Eastern DRC, while thousands more fled to Uganda over the same period.
Muhongayire, pointed out that lack of harmonised national laws among partner states has hugely hampered the implementation of several protocols.
“If national laws are not aligned to the EAC Treaty we shall never achieve our targets as a region therefore I want to utilize this chance to advocate for the countries to harmonize their laws”, she said.
Apparently, it’s only Rwanda and Kenya that have already identified the laws and started harmonising them as stipulated by the treaty.
The election of new members means that its only Uganda and Kenya that are yet to elect their representatives.
The new comer, Rwigema hailed the RPF for having nominated him and finally elected to the regional parliament, saying that; “I’m very happy for having been elected and I promise I will work hard for the benefit of Rwanda and the region as a community”,
EALA is the legislative Organ of the EAC.
Its Membership comprises a total of 52 members, of whom 45 are elected (9 from each Partner State) and seven ex-officio members (the Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs from the Partner States, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community).
The new MPs will now be confirmed by parliament before their names are sent to Arusha to take their oath.
The next third Assembly is expected to start on June 5, 2012.
Contact email: eric.kabeera[at]newtimes.co.rw