The second East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has winded up its 5th Meeting of the 5th Session which ended its time of duty. At its last Plenary this Thursday 31st May 2012, the august House adopted seven hand-over reports of the Standing Committees of EALA for the five year period.
The reports cover the period July 2007 -June 2012 and comprehensively inform the Assembly of the activities, programs and projects carried out. The documentation also includes areas of follow-up by the in-coming (third) Assembly. The Committees that tabled the Reports were: the House Business Committee, the Committee on Accounts, The Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges, the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment, the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution, the Committee on General Purpose and the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources.
The House also passed four Resolutions and a Motion on the last day of its Sitting.
A Resolution brought to the House by Hon Straton Ndikuryayo supporting the promotion of culture as a lever to raise an EAC identity and as an asset to EAC social and economic integration, was adopted. Hon Ndikuryayo said the promotion of culture and arts remained key for the region to promote an East African identity as per Article 119 of the EAC Treaty. The legislator noted that culture and language was a key uniting factor.
During debate, Hon Lotodo urged the region to be proud of the African (East African) culture and to promote tourism and Kiswahili as the lingua franca.
Hon Margaret Zziwa noted that music played a central role in uniting East Africans and urged the region to promote integration through music.
A Resolution on Aid Effectiveness and Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation moved by Hon. Dr Odette Nyiramilimo received overwhelming support in the House. The Resolution takes note of the fact that a number of global meetings have previously been held involving various stakeholders with the aim of alleviating poverty. It notes that binding Resolutions include the Paris Declaration, Accra Agenda for Action and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation. The Assembly thus resolved that the incoming Speaker of EALA and the 3rd Assembly do sustain EALA's momentum through effective participation in the global conferences and high level fora in order to follow up on recommendations.
During debate, Hon Gervase Akhaabi reiterated that it was necessary for EALA to remain active in the international fora saying effectiveness of aid could not be measured without effective oversight role.
The Assembly further resolved to urge the EAC Secretary General and the Council of Ministers to enhance access of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) to the new EAC Headquarters. Moving the motion, Dr. James Ndahiro noted that the new EAC headquarters which is soon to be completed had a glaring omission touching on accessibility to various points of the building for PWDs. The legislator gave an example of the new EALA Chamber which he noted, had no sloping panel to aid those in wheelchairs or those with visual impairment. The mover thus implored the Assembly to urge the Secretary General to make the desired alterations.
Hon Jacqueline Muhongayire noted that the citizens of EAC needed to access the building noting that over 10 million citizens were currently PWDs. 'It is a shame that these group of persons shall not be able to access services at the EAC in the current set-up and we call upon the Secretary General to take up the matter very seriously', Hon Muhongayire noted. On his part, Hon Dan Ogalo noted that it was necessary for the Secretariat to objectively allocate the requisite office space.
The Secretary General, Amb Dr. Richard Sezibera paid tribute to his predecessors for the vision that led to the EAC 'putting up its own home'. He however noted that no allocations had taken place since no official hand-over had been made by the construction team. The Secretary General noted that the Secretariat was in the interim trying to address some of the weaknesses discovered in due course of duty. Such include partitions in a number of offices which he said, would be worked on and ramps in certain areas erected to accommodate the PWDs.
On matters concerning conflicts, Hon Clarkson Otieno Karan moved a Resolution urging the Summit of EAC Heads of States to intervene and resolve the conflict between South Sudan and Sudan and other related matters. The Resolution noted that the volatile relations between the South-Sudan and Sudan had led to economic blockades and disputes trickling down to the EAC and causing misery to its citizens. Through the Resolution, the Assembly urged the EAC Summit to ensure the two countries conform to the requirements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). It further urges the EAC to fast-track the admission of South Sudan into the Community in accordance with the requirements of the Treaty.
At debate, Hon Leonce Ndarubagiye noted that South Sudan had fought far too long to liberate itself and that it was important for the CPA to be respected. Hon Safina Kwekwe remarked that both countries depended largely on oil revenue, a finite resource to fund their economies. She thus stated such precarious situation called for the countries to work together to diversify their economies.
Hon Eriya Kategaya however noted the fundamental differences in the systems of law partly hampered the process. He noted that Khartoum's desire to see to it that sharia law prevailed and the secular law on the part of South Sudan, meant the two nations were at cross-purposes. He urged the region to support South Sudan to ensure its identity as a country was maintained.
The Assembly also paid tribute to outgoing Speaker, Rt. Hon Abdirahin Abdi for the excellent, focused dedicated and determined leadership exhibited during his tenure as Speaker. The Motion moved by Hon Patricia Hajabakiga wished the outgoing Speaker good health and a fruitful political career ahead and it received overwhelming support as tributes flowed freely.
Source( EAC-press statement)
About the author
Gahiji Innocent is the chief political colunist for Newsofrwanda.He grew up in Kampala,Uganda before moving to Rwanda.His column is syndicated to newspapers around the country. He has written columns from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel and South Africa. Gahiji , who has a B.A. degree in English from the University of Illinois, has been a Poynter Media Fellow at Yale University,