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Newly Elected EALA MPs Bitter Over Delayed Swearing-in :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Newly Elected EALA MPs Bitter Over Delayed Swearing-in

Some of the newly elected members of the East African Legislative Assembly EALA have expressed disappointment over delays in convening the Assembly. On Tuesday, Kirunda Kivejinja the Minister of East Africa Community EAC Affairs, attributed the two-month delay to failure by Kenya and South Sudan to elect their representatives to EALA. Kivejinja is the current chairperson of the East African Community EAC Council of Ministers.
EALA elections in progress
Some of the newly elected members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have expressed disappointment over delays in convening the Assembly.

 

On Tuesday, Kirunda Kivejinja the Minister of East Africa Community (EAC) Affairs explained the delayed swearing-in of the legislators and convening of the Assembly.

 

In the statement Kivejinja, who is the chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers, attributed the two-month delay to the failure by Kenya and South Sudan to elect their representatives to EALA.

 

The 3rd EALA Assembly ended on 3rd June 2017 and the EAC partner States were expected to finalise elections of new representatives to constitute the 4th Assembly on 4th June 2017. This was in a bid to allow commencement of the Assembly on 5th June 2017.

  

Kivejinja also noted that the East African Court of Justice had issued an interim order to the EAC not to recognise the nine representatives that had been elected by South Sudan. This was after a citizen of South Sudan sued his country's Parliament and Attorney General for breach of the EALA laws.

 

But this matter was later resolved and South Sudan is set to vote in the first week of August 2017 while Kenya plans its EALA elections after concluding the August 8th presidential elections.

 

 "It is imperative to note that the Assembly shall be convened by the clerk in Arusha, Tanzania purposely to swear in the members and elect a Speaker. In the circumstances, that business cannot be transacted without the presence of members from all partner States," said Kivejinja.

 

In March 2017, Uganda's Tenth parliament elected nine EALA representatives including Christopher Okumu Opoka, Susan Nakawuki, Fred Mukasa Mbidde, Dennis Namara, Mary Mugyenyi, Steven Odong, Paul Musamali, Mathias Kasamba and Rose Akol.

 

URN interviewed some of these newly elected EALA members following minister Kivejinja's statement and, according to Mbidde, the decision taken by Kenya and South Sudan contravenes the treaty for the establishment of the EAC.

 

Mbidde, who will be serving his second term at the Arusha-based Assembly, says the decision the two countries took is to the effect that the Community has no Assembly which contravenes the treaty.

 

"Kenya's conduct is unlawful and the whole thing is becoming a rude joke to the East Africans. They are being playful on matters that require consideration," says Mbidde. 

 

Last month, media reports indicated that Mbidde had threatened to drag Kenya to court over the delay to elect its members to the assembly.

 

Not far different from Mbidde, Mathias Kasamba, a former Kakuuto County Member of Parliament, describes the situation as very unfortunate given that the EAC treaty put in place to guide the running of the community is being disregarded by some partner states. 

 

"We were compliant and elected in time and now we are suffering the waiting and delay. The treaty provides that every partner state must have elected their EALA representatives 90 days before the close of a term of the Assembly," says Kasamba. 

 

He adds that it it's unfortunate that Kenya and South Sudan have not complied but that its part of the cooperation arrangement that these two countries are given time and move as partners. 

 

This is the second time that EALA commencement is being delayed. The Second Assembly was delayed by six months from 29th November 2006 to 4th June 2007 due to related circumstances.

 

With this precedent, Kivejinja said that the five-year term of the Fourth Assembly will run as soon as the Assembly if fully constituted and sworn-in to transact business. 

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