Members of the Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday passed a bill that will pave way for elections of the country’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the legislative arm of the East African Community (EAC).
Rwanda and Burundi joined the EAC in June this year.
The EALA Speaker, Abdirahin Haithar Abdi visited Rwanda last month and urged MPs to elect their representatives to regional assembly so that the country could fully participate in the bloc’s programmes.
The deputy Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Denis Polisi, explained that there should be a law in place governing MPs going to the EALA.
“We must elect our representatives as soon as possible to enable them start their duties by the time the next EALA session opens in mid October,” Polisi said.
According to the laws that govern the EALA, members of parliament are elected to a five year term. Polisi headed a 15-MP committee that drafted the bill, which was tabled to the extra-ordinary session early this week.
The bill requires that candidates must resign from their official duties in order to stand for an EALA slot.
“Members of Parliament and those already in government are not allowed to contest for the EALA positions unless they first resign from their current positions,” Polisi said.
There would be eight members representing political parties: the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) would have four; one each from the Liberal Party (PL), Social Democratic Party, National Youth Council and National Federation of the Disabled.
“We have added some clauses that specifically concern our country such as the fight against the ideologies of divisionism and Genocide to be handled in the East African Legislative Assembly,” he added.
“Those characterised by Genocide ideology and have been convicted of the crime of Genocide, are not eligible and should not bother to vie for the seat in the assembly,” Polisi explained.
The bill also stipulates that those to be elected must be fluent in the English language since it is the medium of communication in EALA. The bill further states that the minimum age for candidates must be aged 21 years in order to allow the youth participate in the East African Assembly.
Somayire Antoine, the head of the Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation Commission in the Chamber of Deputies which studied the bill, said that the list of nominated candidates would be sent to the National Electoral Commission for further scrutiny and then brought back to parliament for voting exercise.
The bill, however, has also to be endorsed by the Senate and was tabled on Thursday.