Makuza elected Senate president

President Paul Kagame yesterday presided over the swearing in of the new Senate president, Bernard Makuza, who was elected by his colleagues to head the Upper House. Makuza replaces Dr Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo who stepped down last month after Senators accused him of abuse of office.
Makuza is sworn in as new Senate president at Parliamentary Buildings yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)
Makuza is sworn in as new Senate president at Parliamentary Buildings yesterday. (Village Urugwiro)

President Paul Kagame yesterday presided over the swearing in of the new Senate president, Bernard Makuza, who was elected by his colleagues to head the Upper House.

Makuza replaces Dr Jean-Damascène Ntawukuriryayo who stepped down last month after Senators accused him of abuse of office.

Speaking after the swearing in ceremony, President Kagame reminded leaders that they have to ensure that they serve the interest of Rwandans rather than those who instead abuse them.

“The first offense as a leader is to lie to those you serve. Leadership is not about working for your own benefit. It is about serving,” President Kagame said.

He added that it is the responsibility of leaders to serve the interests of the people.

“Let’s be serious about development. Let us make sure every Rwandan has security and freedom. We cannot outsource it,” the President said.

Swearing in as the new president of Senate, Bernard Makuza pledged to continue serving Rwandans.

“Keeping me in leadership means I have work to do, I will diligently serve the nation,” Makuza said upon taking office.

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Senator Fatou Harerimana takes the oath of office after she was elected as Senate vice president in charge of Legislation and Government Oversight.

During the elections, 25 out of 26 Senators voted for Makuza with only one member voting ‘No’. He stood unopposed after Laurent Nkusi declined to be nominated for the position.

Makuza is regarded as an independent politician since he is not affliated to any political party.

Makuza was nominated by fellow senator Apollinaire Mushinzimana, who described him as an experienced person with high intellect.

Makuza has been serving as Senate vice-president in charge of Legislation and Government Oversight.

Makuza, 53, boasts long experience in government, having served as Prime Minister between 2000 and 2011.

Prior to that, he served as Rwanda’s Ambassador to Burundi and Germany.

A law graduate, Makuza hails from Huye District in the Southern Province. He entered the Senate as a Presidential appointee.

He said the Senate has achieved much since its establishment in 2003 but still has a lot to do, especially in upholding the fundamental principles as stipulated in the Constitution.

The fundamental principles are; fighting genocide ideology, eradication of ethnic divisionism and promotion of national unity, equitable sharing of power, rule of law, political pluralism, equality of all Rwandans, promoting social welfare and the constant quest for solutions through dialogue and consensus.

After Makuza became Senate president, the post of Senate vice president in charge of Legislation and Government Oversight effectively fell vacant, which prompted Senators to vote for his replacement.

Senator Narcisse Musabeyezu nominated Fatou Harerimana, his colleague on the Social Affairs Committee.

“She is hardworking and reliable,” he said.

Then Senator Consolee Uwimana nominated Jeanne d’Arc Mukakalisa for the same post.
“Mukakalisa is energetic, dynamic, educated and the youngest senator we have here, I request my colleagues to vote for her,” Uwimana said.

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Senator Chrysologue Karangwa, former chairperson of the National Electoral Commission, was the returning officer.

Harerimana won the seat with 21 votes out of 26. Mukakalisa got only five votes.

Senator Harelimana, 43, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management. She entered the Senate as a political parties’ representative.

Prior to that, she served in several capacities as an African Union election observer in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Chad and Senegal. She was the president of Associations and Cooperatives Rwanda Women (AFAMEL).

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