EAC inter-parliamentary meet kicks-off

The sixth Inter-Parliamentary relations seminar (Nanyuki VI) started at the Burundi National Assembly, in Bujumbura yesterday, in the absence of the Tanzanian Speaker, Anne Makinda. The lawmakers are discussing how the bloc’s legislative organ, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), can act as a catalyst to the integration agenda.
 EALA Speaker Abdirahim Abdi during a session in Kigali earlier this year. The New Times/ File.
EALA Speaker Abdirahim Abdi during a session in Kigali earlier this year. The New Times/ File.

The sixth Inter-Parliamentary relations seminar (Nanyuki VI) started at the Burundi National Assembly, in Bujumbura yesterday, in the absence of the Tanzanian Speaker, Anne Makinda.

The lawmakers are discussing how the bloc’s legislative organ, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), can act as a catalyst to the integration agenda.

The Nanyuki Series, held annually on a rotational basis, provide for a platform where EALA members meet with parliament Speakers from member states,  council of ministers and invited guests from other parliaments to discuss regional integration matters. 

This year’s session which runs from November 28-30, under the theme: “the role of the legislature in achieving a political federation” will offer the climax of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the EAC.

Opening the session, EALA Speaker, Abdirahin Haithar Abdi, noted that the meeting and the rest of the activities being organized not only usher in an aura of celebration, but also present an opportune moment to reflect on the challenges while setting the mood for the next decade.

“We had humble beginnings, but we soldiered on to the extent that ten years later, we are now a vibrant and well established institution to whom many are looking to emulate.” Abdi said.

“We must drive the process. We need to guide the EAC to arrive at the coveted political federation within the shortest possible time. People will then decide when and where in the community to invest, study, market their goods, elect leaders and so on.”

Speakers of regional parliaments including the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the ECOWAS parliament, the SADC parliamentary forum and IGADD participated in the session.

The four-and-a half months - old South Sudan’s legislative assembly, with whom EALA has established close ties, is also represented.

Lt. Gen. Daniel Awet Akot, the Deputy Speaker of the South Sudan parliament, a special guest, noted that: “It is indeed with great joy, solidarity, and partnership that we are today attending.”

The new country has also expressed interest in joining the EAC.

 The Tanzania perspective

Tanzania on Sunday refused to sign key EAC documents over concerns including the controversial land, foreign and security issues, ahead of the Heads of State summit scheduled for Wednesday, in Bujumbura.

MP Faki Haji Makame, from the Zanzibar Assembly, told The New Times that: “To sign an agreement is a process of dialogue and discussions. What I am sure is that the dialogue is within Tanzanians first. And when we come to an agreement, then we’ll sign.”

However, MP Elijah Okupa, from Uganda, says that if one member state failed to move with others, it can be left to move at its own pace and possibly join at a later stage rather than drag others.

james.karuhanga@newtimes.co.rw

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