KIGALI - The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) the legislative organ of the East African Community (EAC), last evening wrapped up its sitting in Kigali,
Among the motions they adopted included urging the Assembly and national parliaments to annually celebrate the International Day of Democracy which falls on September 15.
The motion was moved by Rwanda’s Patricia Hajabakiga, who said that this day was instituted by the UN in 2007, pointing out that more than 75 Parliaments have staged special events to mark the occasion.
“A truly living democracy depends on the active contribution of citizens’ participation in shaping their political future and cooperation within political institutions, thus being a decisive factor for the smooth functioning of democratic institutions,” Hajabakiga added, shortly before the open debate that ensued.
Uganda’s Daniel Kidega was particularly emphatic when supporting the motion as he stressed that democracy is a very important aspect of human rights and good governance.
“When there is no democracy in a country or an entity where people are being governed, naturally, the people being governed will be very uncomfortable,” Kidega said.
He noted that democracy is not necessarily, regular elections.
Kidega said the motion seeks to tell the leaders of the region “that they should find time to have reflection on our needs on the aspects of democracy.”
“It is very important that when people are being governed, it is not only enough to allow them vote for their leaders, but also allow them to criticise their leaders – also allow them be part of the group that sets the agenda for what is supposed to be done in their country.”
Tanzania’s Abdullah Mwinyi noted that democracy is not an ideology, but an ideal.
“Every ideological thinking professes to be democratic. Communists profess to be democratic. Fascists profess to be democratic. This principle is not uniform, globally,’ he said.
Mwinyi told the House that due to the uniqueness and various interpretations of democracy, it is critical for parliaments to celebrate and talk about democracy on September 15.
“It gives the people an opportunity to constructively speak with those they have elected so as to have a clear understanding of what democracy is, and what the people expect from their leaders”.