KIGALI - The National Electoral Commission (NEC) on Tuesday announced two new lawmakers set to replace the ones fired by the Liberal Party (PL) last week.
Francois Udahemuka and Charles Kamanda were named the successors of Elie Ngirabankunzi and Isaie Murashi, just a day before the High Court started hearing a case in which the latter two are challenging their expulsion from the House.
Udahemuka and Kamanda are both businessmen.
The replacements were announced in a letter dated October 2, Number 481/com.E1/SE/HPD/mph/07, and signed by NEC president, Prof. Chrysologue Karangwa.
The two MPs elect were the next in line on a 2003 PL list of parliamentary candidates, after party president Protais Mitali who is at the same time Commerce and Industry minister.
Vice Speaker of Chamber of Deputies Ambassador Denis on Friday wrote to NEC requesting that those set to replace Ngirabakunzi and Murashi in the Lower Chamber of Parliament.
Polisi is currently acting in the position of Speaker Alfred Mukezamfura, who is yet to resume work since he was discharged from hospital a fortnight ago.
On Thursday, Mitali sent a letter to the Chamber of Deputies informing about that his political organisation had axed the lawmakers from its ranks, and had therefore lost their parliamentary seats since they represented the party in the national assembly.
However, the two embattled MPs argue that the move to replace them was illegal since they had petitioned the High Court seeking an injunction.
The hearing took place yesterday, and presiding judge Emmanuel Itamwa fixed this Friday as the date for the highly awaited ruling.
One of the petitioners’ lawyers, Mbaga Tuzinde Mbonyimbuga, said his clients cannot be replaced before the court’s verdict. Constitutionally, the expelled legislators have right to appeal to the Supreme Court should the High Court’s ruling fail to satisfy them.
Ngirabakunzi, who was PL treasurer, and Murashi were expelled from the party along with the party’s president for the Southern Province, Dr Laurien Nyabyenda (also director of ARBEF – a reproductive healthcare organisation), Emmanuel Uwimana (PL first vice president for Western Province) and Emmanuel Musabyimana, who headed the party in Kicukiro Sector, Kigali.
They five were expelled after accusing Mitali and several other top party executives of rigging the hotly contested August 5 party elections, which saw Mitali becoming party chief after trouncing his only opponent MP Polycarpe Gatete.
The party’s first vice president Senator Odette Nyiramirimo conceded there were some “minor unintentional” irregularities during the elections, but denied they influenced the results. She is one of those accused of rigging the votes.
Nyiramirimo stood against Theodore Simburudali, who is the President for Ibuka, an umbrella of the survivors of the 1994 Genocide.