New regional Assembly legislators pledge to advance integration agenda

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Rwanda's new East African Legislative Assembly representatives before the lawmakers at Parliament after their election yesterday. The regional legislators have pledged to take the region's integration agenda to the next level when they begin their duties next month. / Timothy Kisambira

The country’s newly-elected representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have pledged to take the region’s integration agenda to the next level when they begin their duties next month.

Rwanda’s new team of nine for the Fourth EALA was elected by both Chambers of Parliament yesterday and will be sworn in on June 5 together with their counterparts from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan and Tanzania.

MP Odda Gasinzigwa, a former minister for gender and family promotion, said: “I will not let my country and the region down. I will work with my colleagues to heighten the integration agenda of the East African Community.”

Gasinzigwa was first elected to the regional Assembly last October and yesterday won re-election for another five years.

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Lawmakers vote the nine East African Legislative Assembly at parliament. / Timothy Kisambira

Among the new entrants at the regional Assembly is Fatuma Ndangiza.

Despite being a first time legislator at EALA, she is no stranger to East African Community (EAC) affairs since she, among others, previously headed Rwanda’s team on an EAC experts verification committee set up to work on the introduction of South Sudan into the EAC.

Ndagiza says she is happy to take on her new duties.

“It is another responsibility I have been given and I wish to assure Rwandans that they will be well represented. It is clear that the Community has achieved a lot but wherever there are obstacles, we will work together to remove them.

“Under the Common Market Protocol, for example, we will collaborate to ensure that agreements already signed are implemented to permit proper integration,” she said.

During her time with the EAC verification committee, Ndangiza and others would travel to Juba, South Sudan, and meet with various stakeholders to verify the readiness of South Sudan to join the Community.

Now that the country is a member of the bloc, she said, she is “happy that we made our modest contribution.”

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A parliamentary electoral agent tallies votes for the EALA race yesterday. / Timothy Kisambira

‘I never put my time to waste’

First elected to EALA in March 2015, MP Martin Ngoga is another member of the delegation who has come back with vital awareness about the regional House.

Ngoga told lawmakers that: “It’s been about two years since you entrusted me with mandate to represent this nation’s interests at the Assembly and I wish to inform you that I never put that time to waste. It was, however, a time to learn how the Assembly works and the agenda of partner states in the Community so that we work to achieve its big objectives.”

Ngoga, a former prosecutor-general, said he returns to EALA with more experience and this will count as an added advantage since the new Assembly will be dominated by new faces.

The representative for People Living With Disability, Alex Bahati, a cyber security expert, is also optimistic the team will deliver both for Rwanda and the wider Community.

Bahati said: “I have the ability and determination to deliver, when working together with my colleagues, to achieve the EAC’s vision.

“Our colleagues have achieved much in the past and we shall work to achieve even more in line with the four pillars of the Community, by especially ensuring that all signed agreements are implemented and passed legislations are put to good use.”

Bahati is a construction entrepreneur who has been working with the Rwanda Demobilisation and Reintegration Commission (RDRC) to provide low cost houses to demobilised soldiers.

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Alex Bahati will represent persons with disability. / Timothy Kisambira
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Jean-Claude Barimubayo is the new youth’s representatives. / Timothy Kisambira
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Fatuma Ndangiza. / Timothy Kisambira
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Françoise Uwumukiza is the women representative. / Timothy Kisambira
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François-Xavier Kalinda. / Timothy Kisambira
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MP Martin Ngoga. / Timothy Kisambira
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MP Odda Gasinzigwa. / Timothy Kisambira
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Pierre-Célestin Rwigema. / Timothy Kisambira
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Francine Rutazana. / Timothy Kisambira

Rwanda’s other representatives to EALA are Pierre-Célestin Rwigema and François-Xavier Kalinda, who retained their seats in EALA, as well as new comers; Francine Rutazana, Françoise Uwumukiza and Jean-Claude Barimuyabo.

Apart from Kenya, all other EAC partner states are done with selecting their representatives to the Fourth Assembly, that will serve until 2022.

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