The Burundian newly elected National Assembly Thursday elected three members forming its bureau, with main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa participating in the bureau as the First Vice Speaker of the National Assembly.

BurundiThe three members of the Bureau of the National Assembly including Speaker Pascal Nyabenda, First Vice Speaker Agathon Rwasa and Second Vice Speaker Edouard Nduwimana were elected in three separate polls and each of them was standing as a unique candidate in each poll.

Pascal Nyabenda is a Hutu and the current chairman of the Burundian ruling party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD) while Agathon Rwasa is also a Hutu and the chairman of the Burundians’ Hope Independent main opposition coalition.

Edouard Nduwimana is a Tutsi and the current Home Affairs Minister and was elected on behalf of the ruling party (the CNDD-FDD).

Before the election, the chairlady of the session – the oldest MP Immaculee Nahayo – informed MPs that the Constitutional Court had endorsed the National Assembly’s internal rules bill as it had been sent there on Tuesday.

Before sending the bill to the Constitutional Court, the National Assembly had removed a provision consecrating gender and ethnic balances in the bureau, a move that women’s organizations and signatories of the Arusha Agreement did not welcome.

The Bureau of the new National Assembly is made up by three men and comes after the removal of a provision consecrating ethnic and gender balances.

Catherine Mabobori, one of the negotiators of the Arusha Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi signed in 2,000, told Xinhua that the removal of the provision is a “violation” of the Arusha Agreement.

“The parliament is a decision-making institution, but there is of course an added-value if there is a woman in the bureau. In the future, MPs might come up with other amendments of the constitution to suppress perhaps the 30 percent of women’s representation, because nothing shows that they are final gains,” said Catherine Mabobori.
She advised women MPs to have a “careful eye” on gains they already acquired from the Arusha Agreement and other laws emanating from the Arusha Agreement.

After his election as the speaker of the National Assembly, Pascal Nyabenda thanked MPs who elected him and pledged to collaborate with his colleagues.

“We commit to promote activities here at the National Assembly for the country’s and Burundians’ interests. We also commit to work in harmony. We will work for the same target even if we may diverge. We will sit together until we find solutions to our differences, said National Assembly Speaker Pascal Nyabenda.

The election of main opposition leader Agathon Rwasa as the second deputy-speaker of the National Assembly happens while about ten MPs loyal to his coalition co-leader Charles Nditije have refused to take their seats at the National Assembly, arguing that they cannot work with institutions coming from “incredible” elections. Enditem

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