Yesterday, the Chamber of Deputies starts the final year of its five-year mandate. And on Tuesday the last batch of new legislators joined the Lower House. Seven new members took the oath of office and immediately started off their one-year tenure. Some of them have formerly served in the Transitional National Assembly while others have worked in other public and private sector capacities for years.
Most of them joined the House by virtue of their political affiliations, while only one was elected as a woman MP from the Eastern Province during a by-election earlier this year. Who are they?
Jean Damascene Gasarabwe
He was the twelfth on the parliamentary candidates’ list of the Social Democratic Party (PSD). He replaced Jacqueline Muhongayire who resigned last week ostensibly to stand for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). He served in the Transitional National Assembly following the 1994 Genocide. “I was aspiring to return to the House, and thank God here I am,” Gasarabwe said shortly after swearing in. He owns a construction company called ECOGAD.
He succeeds Jacqueline Mukangira, who is currently Rwanda’s ambassador to Sweden. He is a member of the ruling Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). Nizeyimana is number 49 on the RPF Coalition list of parliamentary candidates. He is a former mayor of Gisaza (currently in Nyabihu District) in the former Gisenyi province, now in the Western Province. Nizeyimana, 42, graduated recently from Universite Libre de Kigali-Gisenyi with a Bachelor’s Degree in law. He is married with five children.
She was in February elected to represent women from the Eastern Province in the Chamber of Deputies. She polled 864 votes, representing 47.6 percent of the votes cast.
Irambona, 35, replaces Kigali City Mayor Dr Asia Kirabo Kacyira. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Agriculture, Technology and Education in Kibungo (UNATEK) in Eastern Province. Before the elections, she was working as the coordinator of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the same province.
He is fourteenth on PL parliamentary candidates’ list drawn up in the run-up to the 2003 general elections. He succeeds Isaie Murashi, who alongside Elie Ngirabakunzi, on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court seeking a court injunction blocking their replacement in the House. The High Court on Friday rejected their request but the Supreme Court is yet to pronounce itself.
Kamanda was a parliamentarian in the Transitional National Assembly, and of late he has been heading an association of cyclists.
Like Kamanda, Udahemuka’s entry into the Chamber of Deputies is embroiled in controversies, as an application to block his swearing-in was filed at the Supreme Court on Monday. Featuring as number 13 on PL’s list of candidates for Parliament, Udahemuka replaces the outspoken Ngirabakunzi, who together with Murashi, were on September 27 expelled from the PL and the Chamber of Deputies. Udahemuka was the first secretary at the Rwandan Embassy in the UK. He was recalled in 2000, and has since been a consultant.
Jean Baptiste Rucibigango
He is the president of the Workers Party, which is mostly known by its French acronym PSR. He also a member of the Transitional National Assembly from 1998-2003. The veteran politician succeeds RPF’s Abdul Karim Harerimana who threw in the towel last week to ready himself for a possible move to the EALA. Rucibigango is on the 50th position on the 2003 RPF Coalition list for parliamentary elections. He recently authored a book on the alleged France’s role in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, and has lately been working as media consultant and community development researcher. Rucibigango, 54, studied in Burundi before proceeding to the then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in African studies at the National University of Zaire
She is a member of the Ideal Democratic Party (PDI), and lies at the bottom of the 53-member list for parliamentary candidates of the RPF coalition.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. A little known figure in the country’s political circles, Urujeni has been working in a Non-Governmental Organisation.