28 January 2013

Rwanda: Govt to Amend Constitution

Kigali — Rwanda's constitution will be amended for the fourth time since its adoption in 2003 after the country's legislature agreed to support the bill presented by the country's Minister of Justice and constitutional affairs, Tharcisse Karugarama.

The amendment was proposed by President Paul Kagame, the Justice Minister who also doubles as the Attorney General told members of parliament while presenting and defending the bill before legislators.

The amendment he argued will help to rectify some confusion left by the previous amendments.

About 85 articles will be up for amendment a move that will see the country's constitution trimmed to less than 200 articles.

Rwanda's current constitution took force in June 2003 and it has since been adjusted thrice with now a forth one in tow.

Karugarama emphasized that while a lot will be amended; the fundamental principles and some articles which request referenda will not be touched, adding that the proposed review is aimed at ridding the Constitution from some unnecessary ex¬planations and details.

"It will make it (constitution) easier to understand and use. For this time, the amend¬ment will make the Constitution fit in the actual Rwanda's con¬text," Minister Karugarama told MPs.

The first amendment of Rwanda's constitution came six months after it was passed in 2003 with next one happening in 2005 and 2008 respectively. All these amendments avoided touching the fundamental principles including the review of the Presidential term, which is currently seven years and re¬newable once only once.

Despite the overwhelming number of articles to be removed, there will also be some new entries including one which will require the president to address the nation in his state of the nation speech only once a year.

The most recent amendment of 2008 which saw 50 articles amended, Karugarama said, concentrated on mandates of some government officials that were not clearly defined in the Constitution.

It's in the last amendment that judicial courts were also graded based on their jurisdiction. For instance below the High Court there is the High¬er Instance Court and the Lower Instance Court with the Higher instancing Court being renamed as Intermediate Court and the Lower Instance Court named Primary Court.

Perhaps one of the most delicate affairs to amend was that concerning the exact naming of the 1994 genocide of Rwanda which didn't specify the victims of the act. It was passed that it would be called 'The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.'

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