7 July 2006

Rwanda: Fugitive MP to Be Replaced

Kigali — Enock Kabera, a Member of Parliament who is said to have fled the country after reportedly conning two local firms of Frw67 million, is to be replaced. According to hierarchy, Kabera is to be replaced by a former Ambassador to Uganda, Isaie Murashi Sagahutu.

The replacement was confirmed by Polycarp Gatete, a top official in the Liberal Party which Kabera represented in Parliament. "We wrote to the Speaker (Mukezamfura) informing him that Kabera was no longer our MP and normally, he in turn notifies the Electoral Commission of the vacant position and requests for a replacement. And the one to replace him is Murashi unless otherwise," Gatete, who is also a Member of Parliament representing the PL, said.

Kabera, becomes the second PL Member of Parliament to quit the House dishonorably in a spell of one year after Etienne Magali, who stepped down in 2005 due to public pressure after the allegations implicating him in the 1994 Genocide, surfaced.

Earlier in 2004, another PL legislator, Emmanuel Ndahimana, resigned his parliamentary seat after the enactment of a law barring MPs and other politicians from running for public tenders.

Murashi, who currently holds no public position is number ten on the official list of the PL electoral hierarchy, and was the Director of Inganzo, a Kinyarwanda weekly, which sources say, had been created to publicise PL's political interests during the 2003 general election period. The newspaper started shortly before the elections and vanished immediately thereafter.

Murashi also reportedly secured the Ministry of Justice's permission allowing him the drop the name Sagahutu.

And, The New Times learnt that Murashi's credibility is also in balance. He was at one time rejected by the Senate as a Cabinet nominee to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after a team of journalists he formerly employed at Inganzo protested his nomination. The journalists claim that the former Ambassador refused to pay them their salaries.

Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Kabera, who was until his alleged fleeing, a member of the PL executive committee representing the former Kibuye province, are still unclear though some party sources told The New Times that he could be in Belgium.

Sources at the PL Secretariat in Kicukiro said recently that Kabera sought a Visa from the Belgium Embassy in Kigali and then flew out of the country aboard an SN Brussels flight from Kigali International Airport around June 12.

"The information we have is that he flew out with SN Brussels around June 12. That is the time he vanished," the source said on condition of anonymity. However, the Airlines officials could not confirm nor deny the alleged flight, saying that information on their passengers was confidential. "We can't disclose passenger information; it's confidential unless in very special circumstances," said Gewachester, the Airlines Head of the local office.

Speaker Mukezamfura also told The New Times last week that Kabera went missing on June 12, after failing to turn up for several parliamentary sessions. The Speaker added that prior to June 12, the legislator had written to him twice excusing himself for not attending plenary sessions.

"He would say that he was attending a workshop on coffee," said the Speaker, who added that after Kabera's absconding for over five days, he notified his party, PL, of the absence.

Subsequently, on June 28, PL issued a statement in which it said it had dissociated itself from Kabera and that he was no longer its member.

The lawmaker is accused of forging documents to obtain 48 million from Rwandex, a coffee exporting agency, and for failing to service a loan of Frw19 million he obtained from Intambwe Micro Finance, one of the eight micro finances closed over a fortnight ago for insolvency. The case is being investigated by police.

Kabera becomes the second MP in six months to allegedly flee the country in the wake of criminal allegations against them.

In December last year, Deputy Brigitte Tuyishime is said to have fled the country after being accused of uttering derogative remarks against genocide survivors.

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