EALA divided over proposal to restrict sessions to Arusha

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) are divided over whether or not to hold all their sessions at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.
An EALA Sergent at Arms carries the mace to during a session in Kigali.  The Assembly is divided on whether or not sessions should continue to be alternated within partner states. The ....
An EALA Sergent at Arms carries the mace to during a session in Kigali. The Assembly is divided on whether or not sessions should continue to be alternated within partner states. The ....

Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) are divided over whether or not to hold all their sessions at the EAC headquarters in Arusha.

In contrast to the current arrangement where members conduct plenary sessions in all EAC member countries on rotational basis, the EALA Commission which plans the operations of the Assembly has mooted a proposal to restrict those sessions to Tanzania.

Sources say the Commission has the backing of the Speaker.

However, several members are opposed to the move, saying it would undermine the spirit of regional integration process.

“The move is supported by the Speaker and few members largely from Tanzania.  But the majority seem to be really opposed to the idea,” said a source on condition of anonymity.

“The idea has sharply divided the members.  The matter has been revisited several times. A sub-committee has been formed to look more keenly into the matter, financially, as well as the merits and demerits,” the source added.

Sources said the move is aimed at cutting costs the members incur while travelling to the partner states.

“The pro-Arusha group seems to argue that its a measure to cut costs as well but that is ridiculous since the budget that was passed last month took rotational sittings into consideration,” the  source added.

Rwandan EALA member Abdul Karim Harelimana confirmed the reports when contacted yesterday.

“We were surprised to hear that from the Speaker and I immediately wrote to her opposing the move. It’s against the EAC Treaty. We don’t want to sit in Arusha alone, we have to move around the partner states and sensitise the citizens about the integration process,” Harelimana said.

Working reviewed

“There is also the factor of foreign exchange earnings– when we move to the partner states its one way of reimbursing on what the host country contributes to the budget through hotels and transport expenditure.”

Agnes Mumbi Ng’aru, a Kenyan MP on the Commission, said though she was against restricting the sessions to Arusha she believed the working of the Assembly can be reviewed.

She suggested lawmakers should strategise new ways  to reach out to the public whenever they meet in the respective partner states.

“We found the rotational sittings there, even under the previous Speaker…its important because we interact with the national parliaments, the youth, women and other stakeholders. However there is a need to review the whole process,” she said.

The Kenyan legislator said the members should move beyond holding sessions in the partner states and tour different parts of the host country to meet people and assess the implementation of the integration projects.

She observed it was only in Kigali this year, where the members toured some projects and participated in the Genocide commemoration activities.

Prudence Sebahizi, the national coordinator of the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF), said rotating the Assembly’s sessions was important in strengthening the integration.

“They want to minimise the costs but people need to be sensitised about the integration process I don’t support the move,” he said.

Jeremie Ngendakumana, a member of EALA from Burundi, said, “We are still discussing the issue we shall communicate to you once we reach the consensus otherwise I cannot reveal anything.”

Article 49 of the Treaty on the function of EALA stipulates that “Assemblies shall liaise with the national assemblies of the partner states on matters relating to the community.

The issue is likely to be high on the agenda during the next EALA sitting this month in Tanzania.

Subscribe to The New Times E-Paper


You want to chat directly with us? Send us a message on WhatsApp at +250 788 310 999    

 

Follow The New Times on Google News