14 March 2017

East Africa: Delays in Passing EALA Bills Slows Integration

The EAC Heads of State summit to be held in April is expected to discuss proposals to change the rules of assent to Bills passed by the East African Legislative Assembly. As the term of the third EALA comes to an end in June, the EAC partner states are lagging behind in amending their constitutions to be in tandem with laws and resolutions passed by the regional assembly.

Experts say that the challenge has been caused by the logistical challenge of passing the Bills enacted by EALA from one partner state to another for assent.

Bobi Odiko, the senior public relations officer at EALA, told The EastAfrican that the process is slowed down by rules that require that once a Bill is assented to by one partner state it is has to be returned to the EAC headquarters in Arusha before it is dispatched to another partner state. The process was revived in the 1999 Treaty, which was designed to ensure that partner states had enough time to evaluate EAC laws that are likely to affect their domestic policies. EALA has now proposed that all Bills that have been passed by the assembly should be assented to at the next Heads of State summit to be held on April 6 in a yet to be decided country. The Bills include The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2012; Customs Management (Amendment) Bill, 2016; and the Disability Bill, 2015, the Supplementary Appropriation Bill, 2016; Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill, 2016; Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016; and Court of Justice Bill, 2016.According to Kenyan EALA member Abubakr Ogle, partner states are now required to iron out any objections through the technical people before the summit because the delay comes from one partner state objecting to a certain section of a Bill and referring it back to the Assembly for consideration. "The EAC citizens are alive to integration, and sometimes they don't understand why they should be stopped at the border because one partner state is objecting to certain laws passed by the assembly," said Mr Ogle.EALA was created in 2001 as a legislative arm of the community to give legal impetus to the four pillars of the bloc -- the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation.

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