Arusha-Tanzania; The 4th Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd East African Legislative Assembly was begun on Monday January 25 and will continue until February 5, 2016.
The meeting will among other things debate and approval of various Reports of the Committees of EALA, as well as discuss on the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction Bill, 2013, which is a fundamental piece of legislation providing a regional framework for timely intervention in disaster situations and to protect the people and the natural environment affected by disaster through comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management. It will further look into the Reports arising from various petitions forwarded to the Assembly. This is according to a press statement by Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega, Speaker EALA.
During the opening session, the meeting took time to remember the fallen Members of the Kenya Defence Forces following the recent attack in El Adde, Somalia.
EALA is keen on seeing that East African Community (EAC) finds permanent solution(s) to the despicable acts of terrorism. “We condemn in the strongest terms possible, the recent attack on the Kenya Defense Force camp by al Shabaab terrorists,” Mr Kidega said.
On behalf of the assembly, he called upon the International community to equally stand with Kenya in both word and action against these evil force and in the war against terror. It should be remembered that the Republic of Kenya is yet to recover from the effects of last year’s attack by the al-Shabaab on the Garissa University.
EALA will discuss key petition received from various EAC Stakeholders for consideration. One of them is the petition from the EAC Youth Ambassadors Platform urging the Council of Ministers to advocate for the establishment of the East African Youth Council that will leverage representation of all youth activities at the EAC.
A second petition was forwarded by the East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) and East African Employers Association (EAEO) calling for streamlining of workers and residence permits in line with the implementation of the Common Market Protocol. In November 2015, the Continental Lawyers’ body – Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) and five other regional Civil Society Organisations also petitioned the Assembly on the deteriorating humanitarian rights facing the Republic of Burundi.
The assembly noted that all petitions are currently a priority in our scheme of work and are under process in line with our Rules of Procedures.
The Assembly is however very keen on the last petition following the recent worrying developments in the Republic of Burundi. Last week, the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolutions Committee, held a Public hearing workshop where it received contributions from Members of the civil society and the opposition parties in Burundi. The Government of Burundi indicated then of its unavailability to attend and requested to be given a fresh date to present. I thank the Government for their positive response in sending a delegation led by the Vice Chair of the Ruling Party – CNDD-FDD to make their submissions this week. This reaffirms Burundi’s commitment to embrace dialogue aimed at ensuring peace and stability is regained in the nation.
On matters of democratization, EALA commended the Government and people of the United Republic of Tanzania for turning out and peacefully participating in the electoral process during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 25th October 2015. In the same vein, the speaker appealed for speedy conclusion to the pending elections in the isles of Zanzibar.
Further, the Government and people of the Republic of Rwanda were commended for the successful constitutional referendum held on 18 December 2015. With Uganda heading for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 18th February 2016 EALA wished the Government and people of the Republic of Uganda successful elections.
Milestones achieved in 2015
Over the last 12 months, the Assembly received 4 petitions and passed 9 Bills, 10 Resolutions and 20 Reports. The Assembly also streamlined its instruments of Governance including the Rules of procedure and the Code of Conduct for members and Committees. This is crucial given the fact that EALA had a number of challenges within it a year before.
“I am confident that with the support of my colleagues and the Council of Ministers, we can pass at least one to two Bills per sitting and many more Resolutions and Reports, during the balance of term in Office and thus contribute to improving the lives of East Africans. We shall strengthen collaboration even further during the balance of the term in Office,” the Speaker said.
The Assembly is also keen to see speedy operationalization of the Community Laws within the Partner States so as to fortify the integration process. We shall continue to consult with our National Assemblies in the Partner States as envisaged under Article 65 of the EAC Treaty and with the Council of Ministers to ensure municipal laws are amended to conform to our regional legislation on matters of purview within the EAC.
The assembly through the speaker extended their gratitude to the Summit of the EAC Heads of State for the guidance towards strengthening the integration process.