The East African Legislative Assembly plans to launch an independent investigation into Burundi’s recent decision to ban Rwanda’s products entering its market. The findings will inform the assembly and the Heads of State in the region on possible remedies.
This was announced yesterday, by Daniel Kidega, the EALA Speaker after a meeting with Senate president Bernard Makuza.
The two discussed the current affairs at the regional assembly and other projects in the pipeline.
Speaking to the media, Speaker Kidega reemphasised the need for comprehensive efforts that can restore peace in Burundi and South Sudan, whose state of affairs are not only worrying but pose serious consequences on the regional economies.
“I have just heard that free movement of persons and goods are being hampered at the border between Rwanda and Burundi, as an assembly we shall investigate this, we have the committee responsible for communication, trade and investments that is supposed to look into this and advise the assembly accordingly,” he said.
“There should be free movement of people, goods and services, we are operating a functional customs union, so parliament will take it up, investigate and find the facts about it, will debate and shall draft key recommendations to be submitted to the council of ministers. We must not deprive our people from interacting with each other,” he added.
The decision to ban cross border trade and travels mainly between Rwanda and Burundi emerged two weeks ago, with Burundi’s Vice President, Joseph Butore warning of serious consequences to citizens, especially those bordering Rwanda if they traded any commodity with their Rwandan neighbours.
Kidega, who also expressed concerns about deteriorating security situation in Burundi and South Sudan, said the meeting with Senate President Makuza was also to inform him on the assembly’s take specifically on its role to enforce changes.
“We are looking forward to our leaders, their upcoming summit, which we hope will come up with strong resolutions on issues of peace and security in Burundi and in South Sudan. For us as legislature we shall do our best, as people’s representatives to make sure we pass good policies and laws that can bring peace to the people,”
Kidega further stated that as the assembly, some of the key proposals that emerged involved endorsement of peace dialogues among conflicting parties and that they have appealed to all stakeholders in the conflict to come to a round table and make sure the dialogue proceeds well under the mediation of Tanzanian former President Benjamin Mkapa.
“We think that is the only way this conflict can be resolved , we also think the speed at which a number of things are being done by various stakeholders is not good enough, we think we can do better, because we are dealing with lives at stake,” he added.
Makuza reiterated the need to enforce dialogues between parallel parties in Burundi, stressing though that the ban on Rwanda’s products cannot affect the country’s economy.
“We have already expressed our concerns that ban on cross-border trade is by all means a serious breach and violates the EAC protocols. There is a mechanism through which accountability on such decisions is handled, but let there be no worries as far as Rwanda is concerned we have our own way of handling matters, but we all know, this won’t have any impact on Rwanda’s economy,” he told reporters.
Also discussed were EALA select committees, which have been put in place to study genocide ideology and hate speeches and come up with strong recommendation and report for the various stakeholders in this region.
The two also discussed the EAC funding, where countries are urged to develop the necessary funding mechanisms for projects to avoid relying on donors.