…Push for operationalisation of EAC Parliamentary Institute high on agenda as EALA’s Rt Hon Kidega takes chair of Forum
East African Legislative Assembly, Arusha, Tanzania: EAC Speakers are optimistic that the operationalisation of the East African Parliamentary Institute (EAPI) shall go the mile in building capacities for legislators, Parliamentary staff and other stakeholders in Parliamentary practice and contribute to widening and deepening integration.
The operationalisation is expected in the next Financial Year once the EAPI Act, 2011, is gazetted by the EAC Council of Ministers. In addition, the EAC Bureau of Speakers considered a number of key areas deemed to strengthen integration as they held a one day Forum in Arusha, on April 29th, 2016.
In the regard, National legislatures and EALA are to commence on the process of budgeting within the Financial Year 2016/17 with the anticipated launch of the EAPI now in high gear. Under the EAPI Act, 2011, the EAC Speakers form the Board of Trustees and they are expected to act conclusively on where the Institute shall be hosted and advise the Council of Ministers on the same.
At the Bureau meeting, EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel Fred Kidega also took over the Chair from the Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania, Rt. Hon Job Ndugai. The chair which is rotational is held by the Speaker for a year.
Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Rt Hon Justin Muturi and Speaker of the Senate, Rt Hon Ekwee Ethuro as well as the President (Speaker) of the Burundi Senate, Rt Hon Reverien Ndikuriyo attended the Forum. Parliament of Rwanda was represented by the Deputy Speaker, Hon Jean d’Arc Uwamaninpaye while the 2nd Deputy Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Hon Nduwimana Edouard represented the Speaker, Rt Hon Pascal Nyabenda. The Bureau received the apologies of the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga.
The Bureau of EAC Speakers further amended the Rules of Procedures governing the Forum. With it, the Speakers amended Clause 1.1 of the Rules to include the Speakers and Presidents of the Senate as members of the Forum. In addition, they revised clause 1.2 on definitions deleting the terms “National Assemblies/Parliaments” and substitute thereof with the words “National Legislature however designated” wherever they appear in the Rules.
The meeting also underscored the need of enhancing the functional relations between the National Legislatures and EALA. The National Legislatures have continued to play their oversight role on matters on EAC Affairs in their respective jurisdictions including the need to expedite amendments to the EAC Treaty.
It was agreed thus EALA submits the proposed amendments to the Treaty that it submitted to the EAC Council of Ministers with the National Legislatures. In addition, a workshop of the network of senior Parliamentary Officers is anticipated in the later half of the year.
In his remarks, the Speaker of EALA, Rt. Hon Daniel Fred Kidega reiterated the Bureau’s enormous contribution in strengthening the role of EAC Parliaments in the integration process in line with Article 49 (2) and 65 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. He extended his appreciation to all Speakers of all the National Legislatures for the support extended to EALA during the Plenary Sittings in the respective Parliaments.
He noted that Parliamentary elections have by and large been democratic, contributing to the consolidation of democracy in EAC.
“I note that in 2015, new Members were elected to the Parliaments of Burundi and Tanzania and in year 2016, citizens of Uganda elected their representatives to the Parliament of Uganda. In the coming year, the Bureau expects citizens of the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Rwanda to go through the same democratic process of giving their representatives fresh mandate”, Rt Hon Kidega said.
He informed the Bureau of Speakers that EALA had passed the EAC Elections Act, 2012, which envisages formation of the EAC Elections Board whose functions inter alia include: developing, setting standards and advising Partner States on best electoral practices. The Board’s mandate is to harmonise electoral standards to be adhered to by the National Electoral Commissions, noting that this is a fundamental contribution by EALA towards strengthening electoral processes in the region as a way to consolidating democracy.
Rt Hon Justin Muturi, Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly said it was vital for Partner States to move towards the alignment of national political activities and trends with regional integration objectives, deepen integration and rapid socio-economic transformation so as to prepare for and ultimately sustain the Political Federation. The Speaker presented an interesting paper on the “Role of the Speaker in maintaining discipline and decorum in the House.”
Speaker of the Senate of Kenya, Rt. Hon Ekwee Ethuro on his part, reiterated need for the African region to address critical issues with regards to elections and their aftermath.
Rt Hon Ethuro who is also one of the six Vice Presidents of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) highlighted that as Kenya was preparing for elections in 2017, it needs to be cognizant of the fact that many crises in the region surround elections.
“Violent acts are becoming instruments of insecurity and therefore, we must confront the challenges being faced by the region. There is need for the region to act as “brothers and sisters” keepers and to help to find lasting solutions”, Rt Hon Ethuro said. The Senate of Kenya Speaker further appealed to the Bureau of Speakers to assist Burundi to foster peace and reconciliation in every possible way.
Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania, Rt. Hon Job Ndugai remarked the United Republic of Tanzania was making great strides in its role as an active Member of EAC and EALA and observed that President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H. E. John Magufuli and his Rwanda counterpart, H.E. Paul Kagame, had inaugurated a One Stop Border Post (OSBP) on the 6th April, 2016, which is an important milestone towards facilitating Regional Trade and deepening EAC integration.
President of the Senate of Burundi, Rt. Hon Reverien Ndikuriyo, highlighted concerns orchestrated by international media emanating from a move to reject the candidature of President Pierre Nkurunziza for a third term by the opposition and the civil society were merely perceptions. He said such perceptions had culminated into violence and termed such reports as hype and part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Burundi.
On terrorism, Rt Hon. Ndikuriyo noted with concern the damage and pain inflicted by the atrocious acts to the globe. He asserted Burundi’s position that there were no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ terrorists, and that all such groupings have to be fought ferociously. He thus challenged his EAC counterparts to stand together in solidarity to protect the destiny of the Community.
Deputy Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Hon Edouard Nduwimana noted that Burundi is facing financial challenges due to economic sanctions imposed by the European Union. He appealed to the EAC Partner States to beseech for the lifting of all sanctions. Hon Nduwimana further affirmed that Burundi was ready to put in place all pieces of legislation required for the success of the EAC integration and to promote Inter-Parliamentary co-operation.
Deputy Speaker of the Parliament of Rwanda, Hon Uwamaninmpaye Jean d’Arc commended the Bureau of Speakers for creating an opportunity for the Parliament to assess the achievements made, share experiences and challenges facing Speakers in their duty.
She noted that Rwanda had made tremendous progress since it joined the EAC in 2007 and the country was already reaping from the benefits of been part of the bloc. She informed the meeting that Rwanda had embarked on a policy to facilitate free movement of people, goods and services by removing all barriers that hindered trade within the region.
The one-day meeting was preceded by a two-day meeting of Clerks which, among other things, reviewed the mandate of the Bureau, discussed modalities of operationalisation of the East African Parliamentary Institute and reviewed several emerging challenges in legislature in the region.
The Bureau of the EAC Speakers is the umbrella body that EALA and the National Assemblies utilise to champion the cause of Parliaments in the region, that of enacting legislation, oversight and representation and plays a key advisory role to the Summit of the EAC Heads of State.
For more Information, contact:
Bobi Odiko, Senior Public Relations Officer; East African Legislative Assembly;
Tel: +255-27-2508240 Cell: +255 787 870945+254-733-718036;