4 October 2018

Rwanda: New Lower House Holds First Session Today

New Members of Parliament in the Chamber of Deputies who were elected last month will today afternoon hold their first sitting as the Fourth Lower House gets down to business.

There isn't much that is already pending in terms of urgent activities in the Lower House since there are no pending bills.

However, the MPs will be ready to assess and draft laws that will be submitted over the next two months and initiate activities in line with oversight of government activities.

On Tuesday next week, legislators will elect the heads of parliamentary standing committees. On Monday and Thursday, they will undergo a couple of trainings on leadership ethics and how to analyse reports submitted to Parliament by government.

Some new MPs are already looking forward to their first session and starting their legislative work in earnest.

MP Frank Habineza, of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, told The New Times yesterday that he hopes to sit with other MPs and agree on a plan on how to further reach out to citizens across the country.

"We are looking forward to the official commencement of the first parliament sitting," he said.

He added: "In the next two months, we will focus on having an agreeable plan on citizen outreach and see if it will be possible for each district to have at least two MPs focusing on it, like is the case for members of the cabinet".

The Lower Chamber of Parliament is made up of 80 members, 53 of whom are drawn from political parties or independents, 24 representing women (elected through the National Women Council structures), two youth representatives, and one representative of people with disabilities.

The incoming MPs, who wrapped up a two-week induction on Tuesday, have been briefed on various things, including on the status and rationale behind different government policies and strategies such as the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), how the country's budget is prepared, and how Parliament oversees government's activities among other aspects.

The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Donatille Mukabalisa, said that what the legislators have learned during the two-week induction will help them to fulfil their responsibilities.

"We need to keep in mind that we have to protect public interests in everything that we do. We are hopeful that we will deliver as expected during this five-year term that we have started," she said on Tuesday.

The third ordinary session of the year for Parliament, which kicks off today for both deputies and senators, will end on December 4 when MPs will take a break.

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