The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has overruled a decision by the Burundian Parliament to recall four of its nine representatives in the regional assembly.
During its session in Kigali yesterday, the Assembly further introduced a motion to protect members from intimidation and threats in the future and to ensure that they fully serve their terms.
Burundi’s Parliament, through its Speaker Pascal Nyabenda, had written to the EALA Speaker, Daniel Kidega, informing him about its intention to recall four out of its nine representatives.
The four members include, Dr Martin Nduwimana, Frederic Ngenzebuhoro, Yves Nsabimana and Jeremie Ngendakumana.
However, after consultations and review of the treaty guiding the East African Community integration process, Kidega said they found the move by Burundi not tenable and contravening the EAC Treaty.
Kidega said after receiving the letter recalling Mps, he consulted with the Counsel to the Community who has the final legal say on any issue of law related to the East African Community and also reached out to the members in question.
“After consultation with the relevant offices, I have found it not tenable, that the members said in this letter that their membership has ceased because the letter was centrally to article 51 of the Treaty regarding membership of the Assembly,” Kidega told the Assembly yesterday, to a loud applause from the audience.
The House also expressed concern over the move by Burundi terming it as a ‘‘raid on the Assembly, its independence and privileges.’’
Through a motion moved by MP Abubakr Adbi Ogle, from Kenya, as a matter of urgency, the lawmakers noted that the move by Burundi was unacceptable as it breached the Treaty and undermined the Assembly.
The motion, seconded by Rwandan representative Dr James Ndahiro seeks to protect members from intimidation, harassment and threats.
“We condemn in the strongest terms possible all attempts to undermine the authority of the Assembly and the privileges of members,” ogle said.
Ogle said the motion aimed at protecting the sanctity and independence of the Assembly.
“Though all members here are members of a political party, issues within a political party should not cause the party to withdraw the members,” he observed.
Dr Ndahiro, on his part, said the motion was meant to uphold the principle of the Treaty and to ensure that national politics did not interfere with the House business.
“This Assembly should stand up to such intimidation, not because of us but for the good of the assembly,” Ndahiro said.
The Speaker referred the Burundi matter to the committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, MP Abdullah Mwinyi, of Tanzania brought up an issue of reported mistreatment of the EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera while on an official mission in Burundi.
“We need to clearly look into the issue as it raises questions on the privilege of a member of the House,” Mwinyi said.
Noting that the matter was also of grave importance and concern, Kidega ordered that the matter be discussed in today’s session.
Earlier this month, the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution held a meeting in which MPs insisted on giving more attention to the Burundi situation during the Kigali sitting.