A proposal to amend the Constitution that is currently before parliament will see at least 130 articles of the supreme law affected, albeit some with minor adjustments, according to the proposed constitutional review bill. If adopted, the articles will be rephrased, others overhauled, while some are to be dropped, or new articles introduced. The proposal to amend the constitution came into effect initially to synchronise the presidential and parliamentary elections so as they are held on the same day. This followed a new dispensation where the Presidential terms will now be five years from seven, which is the same term as that of the legislators. Following the initial process that included a cabinet announcement and the Parliamentary approval of the concept to amend the Constitution, Members of the Conference of Chairpersons of the Chamber of Deputies met on Monday, April 24, and started the reviewing of the draft revision of the Constitution. On March 31, Parliament approved the concept of the draft revision of the Constitution, whose provisions, among others, seek that the elections of MPs be conducted on the same day as the elections of the President, ALSO READ: Rwanda presidential, parliamentary elections: Key proposed constitutional changes The decision to harmonise the two electoral processes was mainly motivated by the need to minimise the cost of the exercise both for the state and the political parties, among other reasons. “The synchronisation of dates of the elections of MPs and the presidential elections will allow the simultaneous organisation of both elections, thus reducing the time that they would take if they were to be organised in different periods, the explanatory note of the draft constitution revision reads in part. Other changes include; Parliament extended To ensure that synchronisation of the election of MPs with the election of the President due in 2024 does not result in a legislative vacuum (lack of parliament), the Constitution is supplemented with a new transitional provision providing that “MPs in office at the time this revised Constitution comes into force, continue to serve until the day of the dissolution of the Chamber of MPs due to elections.” The parliamentary elections were due later this year, while presidential polls are slated for next year. This implies that if the changes are adopted, the legislators will remain in office until elections next year. New MPs sign in The deadline for convening the first sitting after the elections of members of Parliament was fixed at 15 days after the proclamation of final elections results of the Presidential election. ALSO READ: Gov't to save Rwf6bn through harmonising presidential, MPs elections Public ruling of verdict Meanwhile, the review seeks to amend Article 151 of the Constitution which instructs judges to pronounce all court rulings in public. This review was motivated by the fact that following the introduction of the Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS) which gives all litigants access to the verdict as soon as the judges conclude their deliberations. ALSO READ: Rwanda’s Constitution to change for Presidential, parliamentary poll harmonisation The result was that some judges ended up reading verdicts in empty courtrooms because they are compelled to do so by the constitution. PM in Parliament The Constitution in its current form provides that the Prime Minister appears once in the three parliamentary sessions of the year to brief the legislators about government activities. However, some sessions can last for less than two months and there is a possibility that there is not much to brief the Parliament about or, the Prime Minister may not be readily available in the time stipulated by the supreme law. In the interest of accommodating unlikely circumstances, the draft Constitution suggests that the Prime Minister should appear before a joint chamber of parliament at least three times a year. Countersigning As per the current Constitution, Executive orders are signed by all members of the cabinet. This tends to delay the implementation of some orders as some ministers would not be readily available to sign. To cut the red tape, in the draft Constitution, it is suggested that only the Minister whose docket is responsible for the implementation of a particular order would countersign with the Prime Minister. State of emergency and State of siege Article 136 relating to the state of emergency and state of siege, article 137 on the declaration of a state of emergency and state of siege, and Article 138 on Parliament during a state of siege or state of emergency were revised in form of wording. The “state of siege” was purged because it is a situation that falls under the state of emergency, according to the explanation given. It is therefore preferable in the amendments to use a single term and leave it to the supporting laws to provide for detailed circumstances including details of the different degrees of intensity of the state of emergency and the measures relating to managing it. Other changes Several other changes that will be considered include aligning the content of the three official languages to ensure that they match. Like other legislations in the country, the Constitution is written in Kinyarwanda, English and French, the three official languages of the country.