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Rwanda Revises Constitution To Allow Combined Elections

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The Rwanda Parliament approving the revised provisions

The Rwanda Parliament has passed a revised Rwandan constitution that will allow Rwandans to hold presidential and parliamentary elections simultaneously.

The revised constitution of 2003 constitution as amended in 2015 was given the green light this May 10, 2023, following a petition by the President of Rwanda to have the constitution revised.

The presentation was done by the Commission of Parliamentary committee chairpersons who came up with 176 articles, of which 61 were revised and others corrected in wording/ phrasing while others were displaced.

“One of the main reasons for revising the constitution was to align Parliamentary elections with the Presidential election and consolidation of these two elections will result in reducing budget expenditures and saving time used for conducting each election,” MP Eda Mukabagwiza said on behalf of the commission.

Combining the election timelines comes with some articles of the Constitution changing and these include:

Article 66 regarding the commencement of the duties of the members of the Parliament planned for 30 instead of 15 days after elections, so that sufficient time is allocated to prepare the swearing-in ceremony;

Article 75 regarding the members of the election of the Chamber of Deputies, a fourth Paragraph (4) was added to include the time of the MPs’ elections and the election of the President of the Republic- to be done on the same day.

Article 79 regarding provisions for the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies to allow election to happen and coordinate the timing of the two elections.

Opposition Political Parties welcomed the proposed move to synchronise legislative and presidential polls saying that it will cut down expenses incurred by political parties to participate in multiple elections.

In the amendment of the Constitution, there are other articles that have been revised in the quality of wording and phrases because there are things that need to be added to remove the gaps that have been identified in their implementation.

Among these is Article 72 regarding the sessions of the Parliament which was revised to clarify that the President of the Republic may request that the Parliament meets in an extraordinary session without the need for the request of the Government;

Article 95 on the disparity of laws is supplemented by regulations to empower regulatory bodies to make their own rules and regulations and Article 133 to increase, if necessary, the number of times the Prime Minister explains to the Parliament the Government strategic plans.

Other aspects of the revised constitution saw MPs correct wording and phrases in the constitution especially in article 3- the definition of a male sex and a female sex (which was retained as man and woman.

Also interesting was Article 49- on Respect of the Constitution and other laws – which was revised to allow a citizen to defy authority or superior orders if they constitute a serious and obvious violation of human rights and freedoms.