Debate on power sharing in a multi-party dispensation marked the second day of the ongoing constitutional amendment review in the senatorial committee in charge of political affairs and good governance.
This emerged as members were analysing the draft constitution – already half way through – which sparked off an interactive debate on the functions of political parties and how it relates to power distribution.
While senators emphasised that according to article 58 of the draft, a political organisation might be taken to court, be suspended and/or dissolved over grave violations, legal experts questioned how the ruling might affect parliamentary activities.
“Assuming the party involved in the grave violation of a number of provisions, it is the one that constitutes absolute majority of the Parliament, what happens; is it a House paralysis?” asked Evode Uwizeyimana, a member of the constitutional amendment committee.
However, Senator Tito Rutaremara, said it ‘should not sound like a rocket science’ in Rwanda since such scenarios have been resolved in other countries, mostly Europeans, and that they can be addressed by organic laws governing Parliament.
“There is nothing surprising in such situation; countries like Belgium and Italy are used to it. However, this can be addressed categorically well by organic laws governing both Upper and Lower Houses,” he said.
According to Augustin Iyamuremye, the chairperson of the constitutional amendment technical committee, the same scenario could also be resolved by powers vetted in the authority of the Head of State as stipulated in the same draft constitution which accord him powers to dissolve and or form a Parliament.
“The President is endowed with all necessary powers to form and or dissolve a parliament, he can as well issue decrees detailing how it should be done,” he said.
Senators further raised concerns on when power sharing with respect to coalition and fusion among political organisations shall be conducted and what happens in the absence of subordinate laws establishing modalities at which it should be effected.
“There is a need to know the difference between coalition and fusion among political parties and probably what it means regarding power sharing,” remarked Senator Jacqueline Muhongayire.
But Senator Rutaremara said coalition of parties normally happens before elections and that each party keeps exercising its independence.
The essence of the fusion as further explained by Rutaremara, is when all parties become one, they merge into one and draw a certain ideology, meaning that one party will cease to exist.
Power sharing provisions, according to article 62, are that principles shall be respected in State organs in accordance with the law and that it normally revolves around high profile governance positions.
“The President and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies shall not belong to the same political organisation;
“Members of Cabinet shall be selected from political organisations on the basis of seats held by such political organisations in the Chamber of Deputies without excluding the possibility of appointing to Cabinet other competent people who may not belong to political organizations.
“However, a political organisation holding the majority of seats in the Chamber of Deputies shall not exceed fifty (50 percent) per cent of all members of Cabinet,” read sections of the article.