Rwanda, Sweden offer advice on Ombudsman’s Office

KIGALI - Several Ombudsmen from Africa and one from Sweden, met  at the Upper Chamber of Parliament yesterday to exchange ideas on how parliament and the Ombudsman can harmonously work together. 
Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara(R) with his Swedish counterpart Mats Melin
Ombudsman Tito Rutaremara(R) with his Swedish counterpart Mats Melin

KIGALI - Several Ombudsmen from Africa and one from Sweden, met  at the Upper Chamber of Parliament yesterday to exchange ideas on how parliament and the Ombudsman can harmonously work together.

The Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman of Sweden; Mats Melin, commended the Rwandan Ombudsman’s office which he said had done so much in such a short time.

“The Rwandan Ombudsman’s office has managed to establish itself as a substantial body that is vigorously fighting corruption and injustice and all this in such a short time,” Melin said.

The Members of Parliament also made a presentation on how the parliamentary organs are structured and how they operate.

Melin reminded the Rwandan parliamentarians that back in Sweden, the Ombudsman is elected by the parliament and the candidates are usually picked from the judiciary. The Swedish Ombudsmen report to the Parliament and are prohibited from participating in politics.

Melin also told his audience that though Sweden was the initiator of the Ombudsman’s office some 200 years ago, the office still faces some challenges.

“I am glad that in Rwanda, the parliament follows up on the recommendations made by the Ombudsman, unlike in Sweden where some of the recommendations are sometimes not given the kind of attention that we usually seek for,” he said.

The Namibian Ombudsman sought advice about a recent file that was filed in his office appealing for investigations into why the government was providing unequal sums of money to political parties with the biggest portion going to the ruling party.

To which Rwanda’s Tito Rutaremara, offered assistance explaining how Rwanda goes about this.

“In Rwanda, the government, through the political party forum gives all political parties the same amount of money before elections for preparations and logistics. However, after the elections, the political parties that have scored above five percent of the votes are the ones entitled to some percentage of money,” he explained.

This, according to Rutaremara, is done to avoid inviting trouble from people who may form political parties for financial gains.

The discussions are part of a 3-day conference and celebrations to mark 200 years since the first Ombudsman’s office was established.

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