Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Tuesday walked out of a session in protest after Speaker, Margaret Zziwa Nantongo, ruled not to allow the motion on rotational sittings to proceed.
The motion was reportedly brought on the floor of the House in ‘public interest’ since it was not on the order paper.
Article 31 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure allows for such a motion to be brought to the floor even when not included on the order paper.
But the motion was reportedly shot down on first attempt by the Speaker on procedural grounds, ruling that it could be considered at a later stage.
Peter Mathuki, a Kenyan EALA member who moved the motion, told The New Times they could not allow the session to proceed before the issue is debated.
“We could not allow the session to proceed unless the matter is debated as it’s in the spirit of the EAC integration process,” he said.
“She (Speaker) advised me to prepare a motion and present it before the session. However, when I moved the motion she rejected it and we had to storm out because we think it’s a serious issue that is in the interest of the public.”
Several MPs then reportedly tried to intervene through points of procedure including MPs Joseph Kiangoi and Abdul Karim Harelimana, in vain.
Further efforts by MPs Dan Kidega and Dora Byamukama, both from Uganda, to bring the attention of the Speaker to the matter were also fruitless.
A group of lawmakers then walked out in protest leading to lack of quorum which prompted the Speaker to adjourn the session for 15 minutes.
And when the session resumed, there were only 15 members out of 45 as the rest remained outside.”
This forced the Speaker to adjourn for the day.
The seating resumed yesterday.
Earlier this month, it was reported that members of EALA were 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 had mooted a proposal to restrict the sessions to Tanzania, reportedly with the backing of the Speaker.
Proponents say this will cut costs.
Members continue to oppose the move, saying it would undermine the spirit of regional integration process.