20 February 2013

East Africa: EALA Representation Contested

The High Court is yet to give a ruling in preliminary objections raised by Uganda's Attorney General and the Secretary General of the East African Community, opposing a petition in which two NRM youths are seeking to recall Uganda's members of the EALA on ground that they were illegally elected.

The ruling had been slated for last week, but the court deferred it to an unnamed date in future on the ground that it was not ready for delivery.

Earlier, the youths, Jeremiah Birungi Kamurali and Robert Araali Byaruhanga Tumusiime filed a petition contending that Uganda's members to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) were illegally elected and should be recalled and fresh elections should be conducted.

However, before the petition could be heard, the Attorney General and the EALA's Secretary General opposed it saying that they had filed it late and contrary to the Parliamentary Elections Act that stipulates 30 days within which they should have filed it.

It had been also argued that apart from Kamurali's affidavit supporting the petition, Tumusiime, the second petitioner, had not sworn an affidavit as required by law.

It had been further argued that the petitioners should have petitioned against the 9 members that represent Uganda on the EALA, because the outcome would be affecting them and; therefore, they should not be condemned unheard.

It had also been argued that the High Court had no jurisdiction to hear such matters concerning the EALA elections.

However, Hassan Kamba, who represented the two youths strongly, challenged the preliminary objections by the Attorney General and the EALA's Secretary General, arguing that they complied with the East African Treaty that established the East African Community that guarantees 60 days as the time frame within which an election petition could be filed in court.

Kamba further strongly submitted that Article 52 of the East African Treaty gives powers to national courts to try election petitions concerning EALA since the governments domesticated the Treaty.

The lawyer also told Justice Elizabeth Musoke of the High Court that it was not necessary for the second petitioner, Tumusiime, to attach his affidavit on their petition since the grievances were all catered for in Kamurali's affidavit and; the issues of contention were similar in form and substance and; therefore specificity was not a prerequisite.

Kamba further strongly submitted that the petitioners could not petition against the 9 members, because according to contemporary jurisprudence on subjects of international litigation natural persons are objects and not subjects of international law.

"The East African Community Treaty does not create obligations upon individual persons for protection of treaty provisions nor does it create any such personal liability.

EALA members are definitely not among the institutions of community envisaged under international law to be custodians of the EAC Treaty provisions and; hence they are not liable to be sued. They are mere objects not subjects of the community institutions under the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC," Kamba submitted further.

The elected members to the EALA are Margaret Nantongo Zziwa (Speaker), Nusura Tiperu, Dan Kidega, Bernard Mulengani, Muke Kennedy Ssebalu, Dora Byamukama, Suzan Nakawuki, Fred Mukasa-Mbidde and Chris Opoka.

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