Reforms in Partner States’ national parliaments were part of the recommendations of the 10th anniversary symposium of the EAC legislative organ held in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.
The reforms are aimed at further inspiring the East African Community (EAC) integration agenda.
The Bujumbura session proposed that EAC Ministers periodically update national parliaments on the integration process. Calls were made for special sittings and debates on EAC reports be held in national parliaments, and that all laws passed by the East African Legislative Assembly be presented to national parliaments for debate.
The idea is to get issues of the EAC to take centre stage in national parliamentary debates especially since reports by committees form basis for discussion in the plenary.
The need for a committee on EAC issues was initiated by Uganda’s Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who earlier informed the assembly that she recently instructed her parliament to amend the rules of procedure and provide for it.
Mike Ssebalu, a Ugandan EALA member, told The New Times that, indeed, for national parliaments to seriously get involved in the integration process requires reform.
“The whole idea of introducing a committee specifically to deal with matters of the East African Community is to give a good level of visibility for East African integration issues,” he said.
Ssebalu added that such a committee will be preoccupied with commitments of the EAC – their implementation, as well as issues of financing, budgeting, and oversight to ensure that partner states’ obligations are followed.
“It is also aimed at bringing the ordinary people on board, because the committees will be in position to liaise with different stakeholders through public hearings and other interaction levels to ensure that the issue of the East African Community is topical, be it in parliament, be it in the ministries concerned, and be it in the private domain.”
The meeting in Bujumbura also recommended that a clear roadmap towards a political federation be developed, with timelines and milestones as well as an EAC Constitution as basis of consultations.
The bloc’s Heads of State are expected to meet in Bujumbura , today, to approve key documents of the monetary union and political federation.