1 March 2014

East Africa: Burundi Risks Suspension From EAC

Arusha — THE East African Law Society (EALS) based in Arusha has put the government of Burundi under the spotlight over the breach of human rights and democracy in the country.

The law society has written to the East African Community (EAC) Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera to form a special commission to go and investigate the concerns raised in Burundi and should the matter be proven to be true, then the country's membership in the EAC could be suspended.

EALS called on the EAC Secretary General to evaluate and advise on whether Burundi is still in consonance with the fundamental principles of the EAC.

The reference came up for hearing at the East African Court Justice chambers in Arusha at the end of this week. In the case filed as Reference No. 1 of 2014, the regional lawyers' body points to the ongoing events in Burundi as potential red flags that Burundi has diverged from its commitments under Article 6(d) and 7(2) of the Treaty establishing the East African Community under which partner states undertake to abide by the principles of good governance, including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, social justice and the maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights.

The lawyers' body asked the Secretary General to advise the Council of Ministers and the EAC Summit on what potential sanctions could then be levied against Burundi as provided for under the East African Community Treaty (Articles 146 and 147) of the Treaty.

Following the hearing, the EALS held a press conference at its premises to shed more light on the case.

The press conference featured discussions on Tanzania's Constitution making process and the ongoing tensions between the Legislature and governors in Kenya among others.

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