Constitutional review commissioners were sworn-in yesterday and immediately set the agenda of their four-month scrutiny of the supreme law in line with public demands to have the Constitution amended.
The seven independent legal experts, responsible to Parliament, are, among others, tasked with technically supporting lawmakers in the drive to amend some articles in the Constitution, including Article 101 that stipulates two seven-year term for the presidency.
Shortly after taking oath before the Supreme Court, commissioners were called to Parliament for briefing on their duties, where they received relevant documents and facilities from respective authorities.
Speaker Donatille Mukabalisa told members of the commission that duties ahead were a genuine cause initiated by members of the public and deserve greater attention and expedition.
“These are people’s will expressed in different ways; there are petitioners amounting to 3.7 million, field visits reports tabled after consultations from all 416 sectors of the country and other relevant materials showcasing people’s voices towards the change of the law,” she said.
“Having seen the urgency, we have agreed that any other matter arising with respect to the law is subject to change, a cause where your expertise is mostly needed to adjust the Constitution accordingly.”
Working with Parliament
The Speaker said the commissioners will work closely with the council of parliamentary commission chairpersons on a day-to-day basis with the full support of Parliament.
The seven commissioners are expected to review the law, examining clauses that might be deemed too outdated such as Gacaca jurisdiction and/or those that require updates and adjustments.
Explaining further on the role of the members of the ad-hoc committee with a four-month renewable tenure, Senate President Bernard Makuza said following previous debates on the change of the constitution, their technical expertise will consolidate views in a professional manner.
“In line with article 101 of the constitution, people have clearly expressed how they want it, but there are many other articles that require more discussions and ideas from you, which will lead us to a readable law with substance,” he said.
Makuza also handed over 15 reports compiled by Senate, documentary films, Senate resolutions and the organic law governing the functions of the Senate to help commissioners attend to their endeavors and mandate.
The commissioners were provided with fully furnished offices at the parliamentary premises and will be entitled to benefits and remunerations of all commissioners as provided for by the law.
Although the four-month-period can be extended through a presidential order, Augustin Iyamuremye, the chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission, said delivering within the given timeline is a priority.
He urged his team to take up the challenge and deliver accordingly.
“After swearing in, we assessed ourselves and agreed to serve as a supporting committee to Parliament.
However, we are also messengers of the public who called for this action. The tasks at hand are not easy, but God will help us. We don’t need to ask for more time to complete our work, we have no excuse for failure to deliver,” Iyamuremye said.
The commission chaiperson believes his core role would be to coordinate efforts and activities of his team and says he will make sure citizens’ views are heard, captured and incorporated in the upcoming new Constitution.