The East African Legislative Assembly has urged Partner States, Organs and Institutions of the Community to uphold and apply the principles and provisions as enshrined in the Treaty in respect to privileges of Members of EALA. In this regard, it is now official the tenure of the four Members of EALA from Burundi whom the Burundi National Assembly had wanted recalled from the Assembly, will be upheld.
Late yesterday, the Assembly has passed a Report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on the consideration of a Resolution moved under Rule 30 (J) of the Assembly Rules and Procedures on a matter of Privileges arising from a threat of tenure of office of Office of four Members of EALA. The Report was presented by Hon Peter Mathuki, Chairperson of the Committee.
The Assembly also passed the Resolution on the same – which was the main subject matter but with amendments contained in the Report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges.
Hon Peter Mathuki reads the Report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on the Resolution moved under Rule 30 (J) on a matter of privileges arising from a threat of tenure of office.
The Resolution moved in November 2015 by Hon AbuBakr Ogle, had advised the Assembly to urge Partner States not to introduce attempts to manipulate institutions, threaten Members or undermine their status, terming such a move unlawful and an affront to the principles under the EAC Treaty.
The Resolution (then had) condemned in the strongest term possible all attempts to undermine the authority of the Assembly and claims to the privileges and status of its Members. However, the Committee in its Report yesterday suggested and made changes to the Resolution reaffirming to the position taken by the Speaker of EALA as communicated to the Speaker of Burundi National Assembly on the matter.
Hon Martin Ngoga contributes to the House.
In November 2015, the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Rt. Hon Pascal Nyabenda wrote to the EALA Speaker, ceasing membership of four Members from Burundi to EALA. The four are Hon Jeremie Ngendakumana, Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro, Hon Yves Nsabimana and Hon Dr. Martin Nduwimana.
The letter stated that the conditions through which they (four Members) presented themselves for elections had now changed. It said in part that the party on whose strength two Members were elected to EALA was no longer represented in the Burundi National Assembly. Two other Members had on their part ceased to be Members of their parties having duly resigned.
In his response to the said letter, the Speaker of EALA after consultations noted that the request was not tenable owing to the fact that it had contravened section 51 of the EAC Treaty among other provisions. Hitherto, the Counsel to the Community offered legal opinion on the matter after acquaintance with the Constitution of the Republic of Burundi and the Electoral laws in the country.
Minister for EAC, Republic of Burundi, Hon Leontine Nzeyimana speaks to the House.
The Resolution which was seconded by Hon Dr. James Ndahiro noted that matters of privileges of Members touch on the integrity and independence of the Assembly and that any threats bring with it a potential to undermine the authority of the Assembly and compromises its functioning under the EAC Treaty.
Justifying the matter on the floor of the House, Hon ABuBakr Ogle remarked that independence and privileges of the House were vital. The Resolution further appeals to the Organs and Institutions of the Community to guarantee safety and security of all Members of EALA and staff as well as those of other Institutions of the Community.
The motion was moved under Rule 30 (j) of the Rules of Procedure which allows for a motion raising a question of privilege to be asked without notice.
The Resolution was however not debated. In its place, the EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel Fred Kidega, made a ruling deferring the matter to the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges for immediate digestion.
During debate yesterday, Hon Abubakar Zein said the sovereignty of Members of the Assembly was key and that it was imperative for the Assembly to analyse the context in which the letter was written as well as the impact such would have on them. He said it was important for the Members of the Assembly to feel safe to carry on with their mandate.
Hon Mumbi Ngaru said that it was necessary for the Report of the Committee to have gone deeper bearing in mind that the tenure of Members must come to an end at some point.
Hon Joseph Kiangoi said the provisions of membership of EALA within the EAC Treaty was clear, while Hon Dora Byamukama stated that the Motion was delicate and thus it was necessary to be considerate and diplomatic in handling the matter.
Hon Chris Opoka said the said the legitimacy of membership of the four Members in question cannot be said to have ceased simply because their parties were not in Parliament. Others who supported the Report and the Resolution included Hon Dr. Martin Nduwimana, Hon Sarah Bonaya and Hon Martin Ngoga.
The Minister in the Office of the President in charge of EAC Affairs, Hon Leontine Nzeyimana stated that it was necessary for the law of the Partner States to be respected stating that Partner States had interests in the Community and that such must be respected.