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Today, we enter the second day of the 2017 Presidential campaigns.

After very successful rallies in Ruhango and Nyanza Districts yesterday, RPF- Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is scheduled to meet supporters in Nyaruguru District in the morning and later he travels to Gisagara District for his final rally of the day.

Frank Habineza, the flag bearer and president of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, will be in Nyamasheke District, Western Province.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana heads to Muhanga and Nyanza districts for the second day of his campaigns. Read more….

Rwanda: New Minerals Found as Govt Steps Up Exploration

Rwanda has far more natural resources than previously thought, an official familiar with the country’s mineral exploration programme has said.

The revelation comes days after the Government established a fully-fledged statutory body to oversee and coordinate all the exploration and mining-related activities in the country: the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.

Dr Emmanuel Munyangabe, who the Cabinet on February 3 appointed as the Chief Operations Officer of the new body, told The New Times last week that an ongoing airborne geophysics survey has found deposits of several new minerals in different parts of Rwanda, including rare earth elements, gemstones, cobalt, iron and lithium.

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Rare earth elements are essential in developing high-tech devises in the areas of communication, defence, alternative energy, among others.

The ongoing exercise, which started in October last year and is set to be completed later this month, also established that Rwanda is endowed with more deposits of traditional minerals like gold than previously thought, Munyangabe said.

In January, President Paul Kagame said there were new indications that Rwanda could be rich with previously unknown deposits of minerals and assured citizens all the country’s resources will be exploited in the best interest of the people – brushing aside the narrative of resource curse.

Munyangabe was until February 3 the head of geology and mining department at Rwanda Natural resources Authority (RNRA).

The department has since morphed into the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, with the Cabinet naming former Rwanda Development Board chief executive Francis Gatare as the new body’s chief executive.

In the latest reforms, the other departments under the former RNRA (land, and water and forestry) will remain under the Ministry of Natural Resources.

“The newly established board will build on what has been ongoing under the previous framework, in the areas of exploration, licensing, inspection and regulation,” Munyangabe said last week.

The restructuring will also see the new body inherit some of the staff from its predecessor department, he added.

“The whole idea is to optimise the resources that we’ve always known to have as a country and new finds,” the official said. “The public has probably seen an aircraft flying over their home with a loop hanging low, these are airborne geophysical surveys that we will continue to conduct until later this month.”

He added: “There are new finds, including resources that we previously had no idea existed in Rwanda, while in other cases we found extensions of existing mineral deposits like gold… the next steps will include to conduct further surveys and analyses to determine the exact components and quantities of the deposits.”

No oil exploration deal

The official also said that renewed efforts will be put into prospecting for petroleum and gas around Lake Kivu, one of the numerous lakes that form the East African rift valley, with geological surveys in recent years in neighbouring countries showing that the rift is endowed with huge oil reserves.

Lake Kivu is already home to methane gas deposits and exploitation is underway, with a power plant having been inaugurated there last year.

The newly established Board, Munyangabe said, will sustain the momentum in ongoing surveys. “We believe we will have completed the geophysical, geological and geochemical analyses by July this year and that will give us a clear picture of the mining and underground resources that Rwanda has.”

“There’s a commitment to diversify the country’s resources”.

Rwanda’s principal minerals have been known to be tantalum (coltan), wolfram and cassiterite and gold – nonetheless the country has not been known to be resource-rich, which partly informed the Government’s efforts to invest in human resource.

Last year, the country generated $160 million (about Rwf134 billion) from the mineral sector.

However, Munyangabe dismissed recent media reports that a local investment company, Ngali Holdings – through its subsidiary Ngali Mining – had won the tender to renew oil exploration, saying “no company is in talks with the government regarding oil exploration at the moment.”

“Once a decision has been taken and a company identified it will be communicated to the public,” he said.

Homegrown skills

Meanwhile, Munyangabe said the Government plans to step up efforts to process its minerals locally, with a casseterite-processing plant set to open in Karuruma, Gasabo District this year. “We are looking for more experts to work with in this effort.”

Digne Rwabuhungu, the dean of the School of Mining and Geology at the University of Rwanda’s College of Science and Technology, welcomed the government’s decision to set up an autonomous body in charge of the mining sector and to have its chief executive as a Cabinet minister.

“It will allow for the country’s vision to easily permeate through the sector,” he told The New Times last week.

He added: “Now that the top leadership has been put in place, what remains is to see how the Board sets up a technical team to implement the institution’s mandate… there is quite a lot to streamline within the sector, for instance, every company that is involved with mining should be supervised closely to ensure that the environment is protected and other standards observed.”

He also called for a deliberate policy to consistently promote homegrown skills in the sector, by among others, including the component of skills transfer in exploration or mining deals that involve foreign firms.

“We need to promote local skills especially among the youth,” he said.

The School of Mining and Geology will hold its maiden graduation in about two years time.

Source : The New Times

Rwanda: Gasabo Youth Makes Fortune From Banana Stems

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Banana is like the tale about seven blind people and the elephant. To some people, it’s food, for a farmer it is fodder for animals, and for alcohol manufacturers; it is a raw material for some gins and beer like Urwagwa.

But for one youth in Gasabo district in Kigali province of Rwanda, the banana plant has a whole new meaning. Every morning, Celse Ngaruye wakes up in the morning to hunt for banana stems which he later makes into a final product: the banana lampshades.

When he has collected enough banana stems for the day, he chops them into small pieces, packs them in a sack and makes his way back to his art studio at Niyo Arts center based in Kacyiru. The banana stems are key raw material for his enteprise.

“Apart from the bulb and sockets, our final product is uniquely Rwandan,” he explains. Ngaruye says since he started the enterprise, he has had steady stream of customers, mostly tourists, who are impressed by the unique lampshades made from local products.

“I sell most of these eco-friendly products during the tourism peak periods, from May to November. This is the time, when many tourists flock into the country,” he says.

He says the lampshades he makes during the other months target local clients.

He adds that his other buyers include big hotels around Kigali, and individuals, who like ambiance the local lampshades create in bedrooms or living rooms.

“I have already started getting bulk orders from key hospitality industry players, like hotels. When they make their orders, they are free to dictate the style of the lampshades. I don’t mind this since I value my clients and their opinions,” says Ngaruye.

He notes that what has also endeared him to customers is the fact that buyers are free to choose their favourite colours.

He explains that the lampshades come in different colours, depending on the hue of the paper and ‘ibitenge’ fabrics used. Each lampshade costs between $100 (about Rwf80,000) and $150 (about Rwf120,000), when he sells to tourists, while Rwandans buy them at a bargain price.

The former visual artist says he has now concentrated on making lampshades abandoning his first love – painting – “because this business is more lucrative.”

“I realised that there’s a lot of competition when it comes to visual arts since many youth are into it. But making banana paper lampshades is a new phenomenon in Rwanda… it’s still a virgin field,” he says.

Challenges

Ngaruye, who is soon holding a banana lampshade exhibition, says since his main buyers are tourists, that “business is low during off season (time when there are few tourists coming into the country)”.

Source : The Independent(Kampala)

Rwanda: Call for Action to End Graft in Public Infrastructure Projects

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The Integrity Pact, that monitors the procurement and tender process of public infrastructure projects, shows that corruption and mismanagement of funds is still rampant.

Transparency International Rwanda (TIR) released the report after monitoring nine infrastructure projects in four districts; namely Musanze, Rubavu, Huye and Kayonza.

It shows that, in most projects, integrity pacts were not signed, participation of bidders significantly increased, contract durations were not respected, and citizens were not involved in various phases.

It was also realised that, some materials were ignored; contracts were not proportional to the works which require amendments, destroyed properties not paid for, among others.

It cites the construction of Rwf375 million phase III handcraft centre in Rubavu District, where only 20 per cent of workers were paid on time while only 36 per cent of the residents were informed about the project.

In Musanze, the distance was miscalculated for the construction of Musanze-Nyakinama road worth Rwf12.3 billion.

Water channels, speed bumps, pavements, among others, were also missing.

Marie Immaculée Ingabire, the chairperson of Transparency International, Rwanda, said that in Public Finance Management they introduced integrity pacts to provide an opportunity for independent procurement monitoring at various stages.

The areas, she said, include planning, bidding, implementation and evaluation of important projects in districts.

She noted that the introduction of ICT component in monitoring as a web-based platform and social audits where citizens can provide their inputs on important aspects will keep the procurement process corruption free, transparent and inclusive.

“Public procurement in Rwanda remains most prone to corruption due to the amounts involved in public procurement, on the one hand, and the imbalanced bargaining power between the service seekers and providers at the decentralised entities on the other,” Ingabire said.

“Limited independent monitoring from non-state actors on public contracts and low level of bottom-up accountability were still prevalent,” she added.

Ingabire warned that the findings from the monitoring show some risks of corruption and embezzlement.

“Mostly those are delays in payment of contractors, unlawful addendums to contracts, and the capacity around the procured projects whose information remains at the discretion of officials in charge of procurement, and very few bidders who are always the ones awarded contracts,” she warned.

Apollinaire Mupiganyi, the executive director of TI-Rwanda, said corruption in public procurement of infrastructure has a negative impact on poverty alleviation and infrastructural development.

“Stakeholders need to join forces for better prevention, government authorities also need to ensure that perpetrators are apprehended and assets recovered,” he said.

The Integrity Pact is a tool developed in the 1990’s by Transparency International to help governments, businesses and civil society to fight corruption in the field of public contracting.

It establishes mutual contractual rights and obligations to reduce the high cost and distortionary effects of corruption in public contracting.

In Rwanda, the integrity pact was introduced in 2012.

Xavier Mbarubukeye, the permanent secretary at the Office of Ombudsman hailed TI- Rwanda, saying it contributes to the fight against corruption and misuse of public funds .

He described the integrity pact as a powerful tool that promotes transparency.

“Unlike other corruption control tools, the integrity pact serves as a preventive mechanism,” he noted.

According to Yves Bernard Ningabire, the director general, planning, monitoring and evaluation, at the Ministry of Local Government, the findings are relevant as they reveal real picture in local authorities’ procurement process.

Source : The New Times

Rwanda: Yes, Corruption is a Human Rights Violation and Must Be Treated as Such

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Editorial

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Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the Commissioner for Inspectorate of Police Services and Ethics in Rwanda National Police, this week said that, in Rwanda, corruption is treated as a human rights violation.

Corruption is one of the biggest challenges to socio-economic transformation of societies. It fuels injustice, breeds inequality, encourages discrimination, deprives vulnerable people of income, and prevents people from fulfilling their political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights.

However, many would be confused if corruption was considered a human rights violation. But a deeper mirror of the grotesque impact of corruption on society and the nation as a whole would change such an opinion. Human rights violations are any action that violates the personal freedom and rights of a human being.

The government has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. When corruption interferes with these obligations, it blights efforts to protect human rights such as delivery of an array of services, including health, educational and welfare services, which are essential for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

Corruption creates discrimination in access to public services in favour of those able to influence authorities to act in their interests, including by offering bribes.

Given Rwanda government’s zero tolerance to corruption, it makes sense that the approach of human rights violation is used in handling graft. This is because if corruption occurs where there is inclination and opportunity, a human rights approach could go a long way in helping to minimise opportunities for corrupt behaviour and make it more likely that the corrupt are caught and appropriately sanctioned.

A human rights approach also focuses attention on people who are particularly at risk, provides a gender perspective, and offers elements of guidance for the design and implementation of anti-corruption policies.

If corruption is shown to violate human rights, it will influence public attitudes. When people become more aware of the damage corruption does to public and individual interests, and the harm that even minor corruption can cause, they are more likely to support campaigns and programmes to prevent it.

Source : The New Times(Kigali)

Africa: Rwanda Third Best Place to Be a Girl in Africa

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The Girls’ Opportunity Index report by Save the Children has ranked Rwanda the third best country in Africa to be a girl and 49th globally out of 144 countries studied.

The report released on Monday, just a day before the International Day of the Girl which was marked on October 11, considered five indicators including rates of child marriage, adolescent fertility, maternal mortality women MPs and lower-secondary school completion.

The report states that while most countries are struggling to achieve gender parity among members of parliament (MPs), Rwanda tops the table with 64% of female, followed by Bolivia and Cuba. In contrast, only 19% of MPs in the United States of America (USA) are women and only 29% in the United Kingdom.

USA, the world’s largest economy, was ranked 32nd behind Algeria as 31st globally and first in African followed by Tunisia which is ranked 33rd globally.

The world’s best five countries to be a girl are Sweden, Finland, Norway, Netherlands and Belgium. Germany is ranked 12th, UK 15th and France 18th. Other big economies like Russia and China are not on the ranking.

Niger was ranked the worst (144th), followed by Chad, Central African Republic, Mali and Somalia as the last five countries. In the region, Kenya was ranked 97th, Burundi 107th, Tanzania 118th while Uganda was 120th. Singling out the US in particular, the report stated that not all rich countries are doing as well as they could for their girls.

“There are things where we do not shine on the U.S. side,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. One major example she pointed to was female representation in national government.

The US was hurt by relatively high rates of teenage pregnancy and maternal mortality compared to other countries in the same income bracket. Fourteen women died per 100,000 live births in the US in 2015 compared to only three deaths in Poland, Greece and Finland. Women hold 19.4% of the 535 seats in the US Congress while in Sweden, by contrast, women make up 44% of the MPs.

The report indicated that one girl under 15 is married every seven seconds in the world, revealing the scale of the threat posed by child marriage to education, health and children’s safety. “Girls as young as 10 are marrying to much older men in countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, India and Somalia,” reads the report.

Source : Rwanda Focus

African Women Meet At Mount Kilimanjaro to Demand Rights

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Rwandan rural women, together with their counterparts from various countries on the continent, will today convene at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in an effort to advocate for unrestricted women’s rights to land and other natural resources across the continent.

Participants from Rwanda say they are taking part in the cause as a sign of solidarity with women from parts of Africa that continue to be discriminated against with regard to land ownership.

Officials believe that the ‘Kilimanjaro initiative’ offers a unique window of opportunity to unify and amplify the struggles of rural women across Africa.

The three-day event starts today in Moshi town. The women will climb Mountain Kilimanjaro as a sign to show their difficulties in land ownership.

A group of ten women was selected to represent women from various rural cooperatives countrywide, according to James Butare, head of programmes and policy at Action Aid, which is supporting the initiative.

He said the event is expected to be the largest rural women’s land rights assembly ever seen at the foot of Mountain Kilimanjalo.

Women will share experiences on identifying and addressing key barriers to women’s land rights such as early marriage, poor access to information, and unfair inheritance, among others.

Butare said that, while Rwanda has actively promoted equal rights on land, it is worthwhile to share experience with women from elsewhere on the continent, learn from them and share success stories.

Speaking at a news conference in Kigali over the weekend, Butare said that the event is important as it brings together women from various countries to share experiences.

“This is a solidarity action because, if women have land problems in some countries, women elsewhere are also affected. In Rwanda, we have reached 50 per cent when it comes to women rights to land ownership while others still claim just 30 per cent, this would be an opportunity for us to share experience while also learning from each other,” he said.

With 2016 declared by the African Union as the Africa year of human rights with a particular focus on the rights of women, women movements believe that it is time for action.

“At the meeting women will produce a charter on demand for fair and equal rights and the charter will be presented to the African Union and United Nations for action,” Butare noted.

Esperance Nyirahabimana, who hails from Karongi and one of participants, said they expected to learn a lot from the gathering.

“Though land rights in Rwanda have been promoted and women given equal rights as men, the main challenge we still have is a culture where some women still fear to claim their land rights and where some people have a misconception that both women and men can not have equal rights to property,” she said.

“We shall learn from others how this can change.”

The event will be attended by women from 20 African countries.

Catheline Katundu, Action Aid’s land policy manager, said ” The women gathering at Mount Kilimanjaro are saying ‘enough is enough’, we cannot continue to build our nations upon land that is then pulled from under us when it suits the whim of big business, an uncle seeking inheritance or local government.”

A recent research study by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation indicated that less than one quarter of agricultural land in developing countries is controlled by women, while low female access and control of land significantly obstructs access to financial assets.

Source : The New Times

Rwanda Opposition Leader Dealt Blow As Court Rejects Plea

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Rwanda’s imprisoned opposition leader Victoire Ingabire was dealt a blow after the court rejected her plea for video conferencing to help her follow court proceedings in a case involving the government of Rwanda.

The Arusha based African Court of Human and Peoples Rights’ President Augustino Ramadhani Sunday said the court did not have the capacity to facilitate the use of video conferencing, adding that her presence at the court was not necessary.

Lawyers of the embattled Rwandan politician had argued that since she cannot be allowed to travel and attend the hearings in Arusha, the court should avail her with video conferencing facilities.

Her lead counsel, Gatera Gashabana told the court that preventing her from participating “would undermine her right to effective remedy.”

“In the absence of rules guiding the taking of evidence from video conferencing, the court cannot compel the government of Rwanda to provide video conferencing for her to follow proceedings,” Mr Ramadhani said.

The court also rejected Ingabire’s request to disregard the amicus curiae (impartial adviser to a court) role by the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG).

The lawyers had contested the body’s neutrality on the basis that it had “no independent status from the government.”

However, the court ruled that it has discretion to receive evidence from any person, which in its view would assist it in the determination of a case.

Illegal searching

The court however called on the government to cease the alleged illegal searching of documents belonging to Ingabire’s lawyers when they are visiting her in prison.

To this, the court ruled that it recognizes Ingabire’s right to legal counsel and asked government to assist Ingabire in accessing counsel.

This was in response to complaints raised by her lawyers, who said that they face intimidation and mandatory searching of their documents whenever they visit her in prison.

“Searching documents of her lawyers while they visit her in prison is in contravention of international human rights and Rwandan laws, which recognize and guarantee the right of lawyers to communicate with detained clients, professional secrecy, and provide for procedures of search of an advocate’s office,” the court said.

The government did not respond to this claim in court, but the Minister for Justice, Johnston Busingye told The East African Tuesday, that the claim of searching through her lawyers’ document was baseless.

“I do not believe that there was evidence to that claim. The rule about access between lawyer and client is a rule in our law, and to the best of my knowledge it has not been broken,” he said.

Ms Ingabire, 47, who heads the unregistered political party FDU-Inkingi, dragged the Rwanda government to the Arusha-based court, accusing it of violating her rights and freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

She is serving 15 years in prison after Rwanda’s Supreme Court in 2013 found her guilty of inciting revolt, forming armed groups to destabilise the country.

Rwanda will be expected to appear at future hearings of this particular trial, despite requesting to withdraw from the court’s special declaration that allows individuals and NGOs to sue governments.

The Arusha court approved the government’s request, but maintained that it can only withdraw from the special declaration one year after submission of the request.

In the Sunday hearing, Rwanda was represented by senior state attorney Epimaque Rubango Kayihura.

Source : The East African

Rwanda President Kagame Fires Military Intelligence Chief

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President Paul Kagame has fired Rwanda’s head of military intelligence, Major General Richard Rutatina in unclear circumstances.

In a statement posted Monday on the Ministry of Defence website, the president and commander-in-chief of the Rwanda Defence Forces dismissed Maj Gen Rutatina from his position commonly known as “J2”, while promoting two other senior military officers.

Though reasons for his sacking were not provided, Maj Gen Rutatina leaves office with “immediate effect”.

Before his appointment as head of military intelligence in 2013, Maj Gen Rutatina previously served as President Kagame’s adviser on defence and security. He had replaced DCG Dan Munyuza, who is now the deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of operations.

His replacement has not been provided.

Among the two high-ranking officers who were promoted was Maj Gen Jacques Musemakweli to army chief of staff – replacing Lt Gen Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, and Maj Gen Alex Kagame, who replaces Musemakweli as the commander of Republican Guard.

Maj Gen Kagame has been serving as the Division Commander for Southern Province.

Source : The East African

Rwanda: Girls Outshine Boys in Senior Three Exams

General performance for Senior Three candidates in the 2015 national examinations improved compared to last year, with girls outperforming their male counterparts, according to results released yesterday.

A total of 84,868 candidates sat the examinations, with 74,036 passing – a pass rate of 87.24 per cent.

The results, released by Rwanda Education Board (REB), indicate that out of 74,036 students who passed, 38,277 were girls, representing 51.7 per cent.

However, boys were overall best performers despite having majority of girls among those that passed their exams, according to results that were announced by the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, Olivier Rwamukwaya.

The results show that 9,225 candidates (10.87 per cent) passed in Division One, but only 23 attained aggregate 8 in eight subjects, the highest score.

Despite the outstanding performance by girls, Rwamukwaya said there still could be some culture hindrances that stop girls from performing to the best of their potential.

“It is possible that girls meet more challenges in life than boys, hence requiring more guidance and intervention. Nonetheless, it is good to see that more girls passed their exams this year,” he said.

“We are also proud of the results in general; we appreciate the efforts made by all stakeholders in ensuring this performance, especially the teachers who do a great job preparing candidates for exams.”

The results also showed slight increase in general pass rate of 0.67 per cent, as compared to 2014 O-Level results.

Rwamakuwaya called on parents to continue supporting their children and offering a conducive home environment to enable improved performance.

The minister said a family that is marred by wrangles does not provide the best environment for children to learn.

Malpractices individual

While releasing the results, Minister Rwamukwaya said there were a number of cases where candidates got involved in examinations malpractices and, subsequently, their results were nullified.

This was reiterated by Janvier Gasana, the director-general of REB, who said cases of malpractices involved both individual candidates and heads of examination centres and invigilators-who were involved in unlawful acts of assisting candidates answer questions.

“The candidates implicated have been punished through cancelling their results and the invigilators will also be punished, after a thorough investigation,” Gasana said.

However, the REB chief did not divulge detail of the candidates and examination centres involved in malpractice.

Out of 86,541 candidates who registered for the 2015 Senior Three examinations, at least 2 per cent did not sit.

“We are working with district education officers to establish the cause of this absenteeism and find a lasting solution. Under normal circumstances, no candidate should miss their examinations,” Rwamukwaya added.

Following the release of Primary Six and Senior Three examinations results, yesterday, the selection of students for Senior One and Senior Four will begin “as soon as possible to allow students proceeding to the new education levels start when schools open next month,” Gasana said.

Gasana reiterated that the government resolved not to rank the best performing schools and districts in order to discourage unfair competition, which in most cases would bring about examination malpractices-among schools-all in bid to emerge the best.

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Best Ordinary Level students with 8 aggregates

Belise Mbabazi. – Nyanza

Sheilla Teta Kangwagye. – Gasabo

Delphine Mizero. – Karongi

Adam Kato David. – Bugesera

Amos Tumwine. – Gicumbi

Jean Bertrand Aime Hakizimana. – Musanze

Pacifique Hirwa Umutoni. – Nyamasheke

Enock Tuyizere. – Nyagatare

Yvan Valery Ntwari. – Nyagatare

Francois d’assise Tuyisingize. – Nyarugenge

Marie Immaculee Dusingize. – Huye

Sonia Karita Uwizerwa. – Kicukiro

Rosine Uwayesu. – Gasabo

Divine Mbabazi. – Gasabo

Patience Shenge. – Rwamagana

Moise Ishimwe. – Nyanza

Beregise Igiraneza. – Gasabo

Emmanuel Mugisha. – Nyagatare

philbert Ndagijimana. – Ruhango

Noel Olivier Karemangingo. – Karongi

Angelique Uwimpuhwe. – Gasabo

Boris Ngabo. – Bugesera

Sonia Uwase. – Gasabo

Source : The New Times