Senate approves constitutional review commission members

The Senate completed vetting of commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), with the Supreme Court now expected to swear in the seven-member team.

The Senate completed vetting of commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), with the Supreme Court now expected to swear in the seven-member team.

The vetting came after a Cabinet meeting earlier in the week nominated the commissioners at the request of Parliament to help the legislators in the process of reviewing the constitution, with a view to amending it.

The vetting was conducted by the senatorial Standing Committee on Political Affairs and Good Governance.

The commissioners are Dr Augustin Iyamuremye (chairperson), Usta Kayitesi (vice-chairperson), and members Evode Uwizeyimana, John Mirenge, Aimable Havugiyaremye,  Loyce Bamwine  and Beata Mukeshimana.

Senator Appolinaire Mushinzimana, the chairperson of the committee, said all commissioners were scrutinised, looking at their biographies, which was supplemented by face-to-face interviews on the work awaiting them and what their contribution would be.

 “We also looked at requirements as provided for by the law that governs their functions, like being of high degree of integrity, leadership competence, merit and a clean criminal record,” he said.

They are also expected to have a vast background in constitutional law.

Following the exercise, Mushinzimana said all the nominees were found fit for the job.

Speaking to the media shortly after the approval of the commissioners, Bernard Makuza, the president of the Senate, said the commission members were qualified for the task and that the next move will be to have them sworn in by the Supreme Court.

Makuza said the commissioners, who will operate from the precincts of Parliament after they are sworn in, will have to temporarily relinquish their respective current duties and will only go back after the commission’s work is concluded.

The commissioners are leaders in the academia and other institutions.

The commission will serve for a period of four months, which can be renewed in case the assigned task is not completed within the specified time.

Emmanuel Mahame Itamwa, the Judiciary spokesperson, said in the interest of time and in response to the citizens’ call to amend the Constitution, the Supreme Court might swear in commissioners next week.

“I cannot confirm the exact date, but it has to be as soon as possible,” he told Saturday Times.

The commission of experienced legal practitioners will start duties shortly after the swearing in.

Genesis

The commission comes into place following growing pressure from the public for lawmakers to kick-start the process to amend the Constitution, especially Article 101 that stipulates term limits for the President of the Republic.

The petitions, which were written by over 3.7 million Rwandans of voting age, called for the removal of term limits, to ensure the continued leadership of President Paul Kagame.

In its current form, the constitution bars Kagame, whose second term ends in 2017, to seek re-election.

 

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