PARLIAMENT – The Lower Chamber of Parliament on Wednesday ruled that the case of a former Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF) MP condemned for Genocide, be referred back to her party to settle the issue of her replacement.
Beatrice Nirere had served only five months of her second five-year mandate when in early March she found guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment over Genocide crimes by a local Gacaca court.
But ever since she was sent to prison, her seat in parliament is still vacant and no one has yet been nominated by her party as a replacement.
Presiding over the plenary session, Speaker Rose Mukantabana said she had brought the case before the general assembly because Nirere’s absence in the House has gone beyond ten days prescribed by article 89 of the law governing the parliament, and they have never received any justification.
“She has been absent 29 times and we haven’t received any letter justifying her absence,” she told lawmakers as she opened up the matter for debate.
According to the law, when an MP loses his/her post in parliament, they must be replaced by the person next on the list of their party’s candidates.
When contacted however, RPF Vice Chairperson Christophe Bazivamo said the party is yet to sit and discuss Nirere’s replacement.
“I think we are still within the confines of the law because there is no deadline prescribed by the law,” he said in a phone interview, adding that the party needs to make sure the next in line on the list still fulfills the conditions for candidacy.
Bazivamo who is also the Minister of Agriculture elaborated that the party’s evaluation would ensure that the person to replace Nirere is not being pursued by the courts over embezzlement or any other charges.
Nirere was described by witnesses in a Kigali suburb as a prominent member of the Interahamwe militia which spearheaded the 1994 Genocide against Tutsis.
She was accused of distributing uniforms and other equipment to gangs of militias and helped in mounting a roadblock at a place popularly known as “Escalier” near her home where scores of Tutsis were killed.
Two parliamentarians from the RPF have so far lost their seats in the Second Parliament, the other one being Munyanganizi Bikoro, who stood down to pave way for investigations into embezzlement allegations lined up against him.