PARLIAMENT is expected to elect the country’s nine representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) today.
Each of the six partner states of the East African Community (EAC) has nine lawmakers in the regional Assembly.
Partner states are required, by law, to elect new EALA members within 90 days before the expiry date (in this case June 4) of the third Assembly.
“Parliament will vote tomorrow [today]. We finished our work and sent all the names of nominees from the national youth council; the national women council; the national council of persons with disability, and political parties,” the National Electoral Commission executive secretary, Charles Munyaneza, told The New Times.
After it is sworn in on June 5, the fourth Assembly will serve up to 2022.
Five of Rwanda’s current nine representatives to the Assembly are not eligible for re-election, according to the EALA Election Act 2011.
Rwanda’s members in the third Assembly include Dr James Ndahiro, Patricia Hajabakiga, Straton Ndikuryayo, Valerie Nyirahabineza, and Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, who served in the second (2007-2012) and third (2012-2017) Assemblies and cannot stand for re-election.
An elected member holds office for five years and is eligible for re-election for only one additional five-year term.
The others; Martin Ngoga, Dr Francois Kalinda, Pierre-Celestin Rwigema, and Oda Gasinzigwa – who only started serving during the third Assembly – can be re-elected. All have been nominated.
The list of 18 sent to parliament by the National Electoral Commission on Wednesday has eight nominees by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF-Inkotanyi), two by Liberal Party (PL) and two from the Social Democratic Party (PSD).
The National Youth Council, National Women Council, and the National Council of Persons with Disability also have two nominees each.
After the voting, only four of the RPF’s candidates will get a seat in the regional Assembly in addition to one from each of the other five categories, to complete the number of representatives.
The 18 nominees
The eight RPF-Inkotanyi nominees are Gasinzigwa, the former gender and family promotion minister who in October replaced Christophe Bazivamo; Amb. Fatuma Ndangiza, the deputy chief executive of Rwanda Governance Board, who previously served as Rwanda’s envoy to Tanzania.
The RPF list also has two other current EALA members, Rwigema and Ngoga, who stand a chance of being re-elected.
Rwigema, a former prime minister – between 1995 and 2000 – who returned from 11 years of self-imposed exile in the US in 2011, is an economist by training.
Ngoga, a former prosecutor-general, was elected to EALA in March 2015 to replace Abdul Karim Harelimana, who had resigned from the regional Assembly. Ngoga is, among others, a member of the EALA Commission, the Assembly’s principal committee which manages the affairs of the Assembly.
Others include Aimable Bayingana, the Rwanda Cycling Federation president, and Jennifer Wibabara, who has previously lost twice in her attempt to represent the country at the regional Assembly.
Others are Albert Nkiko and Callixte Kanamugire.
The PSD nominees are Dr Kalinda, first elected to the regional Assembly in September 2015 to replace Celestine Kabahizi, who resigned from the Assembly earlier that year, in addition to newcomer Françoise Uwera Kabanda.
Prior to his election in 2015, Dr Kalinda, was the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Rwanda. He holds a PhD in Business Law from the University of Strasbourg, France. Upon graduation from the then National University of Rwanda in 1996, he pursued a Master of Law in Intellectual Property Rights at the University of Ottawa, in Canada, and completed in 1999.
The Liberal Party has fronted Francine Rutazana, former executive secretary of the League for Human Rights in the Great Lakes Region, and Jean Claude Uwizeyimana as it looks for Dr Nyiramilimo’s replacement.
Alex Bahati or Sharon Tumusiime will replace Dr Ndahiro in EALA as a representative for PLWDs. Bahati is an entrepreneur while Tumusiime works for Home de la Vierge des Pauvres (HVP), an organisation that cares for and provides vocational training to PLWDs. The latter has also been coordinator of the activities of the national council of persons with disability in Nyanza district.
The youth’s representatives, Jean Claude Barimuyabo and Jessica Beneyo, have served in different capacities in national youth leadership structures. The one who gets majority votes will replace Ndikuryayo.
The two women nominees are Francoise Uwumukiza, president of the National Women Council, and Dr Valentine Uwamariya, a university lecturer with a PhD in chemistry.
The regional Assembly’s Election Act 2011 says national parliaments of each partner state make rules governing the procedure for election of members subject to this Act and Article 50 of the EAC Treaty.
The entire poll is organised and conducted by both chambers of the Parliament in a joint session.
For one to be elected they must be nationals of at least 21 years of age; people of integrity; and hold at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification or have held a senior managerial position.
An eligible candidate must not have been deprived of civil and political rights by a court of law; must not have been irrevocably sentenced to a penalty equal to or higher than six months’ imprisonment which has not been forgiven by amnesty or rehabilitation; not have been convicted of the crime of genocide or crimes against humanity; and not suffer from mental illness.
They cannot be a Member of Parliament, Cabinet member or member of staff of the EAC at the time of elections. However, the law states that a person in such organs may become a candidate after having beforehand temporarily resigned from their duties.
If such a person loses elections, they can be reinstated in their previous functions unconditionally.
The number of candidates submitted by each category of political organisations and categories represented in the Chamber of Deputies is also established by law. While the RPF can submit eight candidates, others submit two each.
To be successful, a candidate must obtain at least one third of all votes cast.