The Senate voted unanimously on Wednesday to expel one of its members, Safari Stanley after the house received confirmation from Police that the senator had fled the country almost 2 weeks ago.
Basing its decision on article 99 of internal rules governing the Senate, the house expelled the fugitive lawmaker on grounds of absence without official leave.
Safari fled the country to escape genocide charges against him and whose final judgment was about to be read by a gacaca court in Huye district. Subsequently, court found him guilty and sentenced the aging lawmaker to life in prison.
The expulsion comes a week after a warning letter from the Senate was delivered to his official residence seeking explanations as to why he had been absent from duty with no formal communication.
“We sent warning letters to his home, local authorities and through email but we did not get any response,” said Senate President Dr. Vincent Biruta.
“Today we received a letter from the National Police confirming to us that he fled the country on May 31.”
Biruta told the House that as the law stipulates, Safari should be expelled for such ‘dishonourable’ conduct.
Biruta’s suggestion was immediately backed by Senators, Joseph Karemera, Juvenal Sebishwi and Chrysologue Kubwimana.
But Senator Valens Munyabagisha differed from his colleagues insisting that Safari should instead be fired on grounds of his recent conviction and not mere absenteeism.
“We very well know the issues of Safari, so, let us not base our decision on his absence,” said Munyabagisha.
“It is very unfortunate that Safari, who was one of us was convicted. Everybody who holds this senatorial seat should be clean and for that mater, I request that we base on that to expel him,” said Munyabagisha.
The law states that the House can vote for the expulsion of a Senator with a three-thirds majority; 16 Senators out of 26. Out of the 19 senators present, 18 voted in favour of the motion.
Internal rules empower the Senate to expel one of its members if he/she misses six consecutive sessions without a genuine reason.
In such circumstances, the Senator is first served with a warning letter and if there’s no response, the House can then go ahead to expel.
Similarly, article 91 of the same law stipulates that any Senator convicted of any crime automatically loses his seat.