18 December 2017

East Africa: EALA Opens By Picking Speaker

Arusha — Two MPs are likely to attract the attention of their colleagues today, when the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) reconvenes after a six-month lull due to a long electioneering period in Kenya.

The two MPs are reported to be vying for the position of the Speaker, who will be elected before the 4th Assembly starts business.

Neither of the two - Mr Martin Ngonga from Rwanda and Mr Jean-Marie Muhirwa from Burundi could confirm they are eyeing the seat - but sources close to the Eala have it that they are among those mentioned.

Election of the Speaker will dominate today's activities during the 1st sitting of the 4th Assembly, according to a provisional programme issued at the weekend.

Other activities are the swearing-in of members and the election of Eala members to the Eala Commission, which oversees administrative issues.

Although not officially announced, candidates for the position of Speaker will this time be either from Rwanda or Burundi, which have had none of its lawmaker in that post since they both joined the East African Community (EAC) in 2007.

Eala started operating in 2001 and ever since it has its Speakers from the three founding members of the bloc - Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Former Eala Speakers are Abulrahman Kinana from Tanzania (2001-2007) and Abdirahin Haithar Abdi from Kenya (2007-2012). Ms Margaret Nnatongo Zziwa from Uganda served in the same position from June 2012 to December 2014.

However, MsZziwa was replaced by Mr Daniel Kidega, also from Uganda, after she was impeached through a vote of no confidence following allegations of abuse of office and nepotism during her tenure of office. Both Mr Kidega and Ms Zziwa completed their two five-year term when the Third Assembly tenure came to an end on June 4th this year.

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