East Africa: EALA Speaker Survives Removal Order Verdict

THE East African Court of Justice (EACJ), has dismissed an application lodged by Burundi to order the removal of Rwanda's, Martin Ngoga from the seat of the Speaker of the regional assembly.

EACJ's First Instance Division on Tuesday maintained that Mr Ngoga was legitimately elected as the fourth speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

A panel of three judges led by Lady Justice, Monica Mugenyi held that the applicants failed to substantiate that some lawmakers from Burundi and Tanzania went missing in action as the election process of the speaker got underway in the evening of December 19, 2017 at the assembly's debating chamber, which is housed at the EAC headquarters' ground floor.

Contrary to the applicant's submission that the assembly had contravened with Articles 6(d), 7(2) and 57(1) of the EAC Treaty and Rule 12(1) of the Assembly's Rules of Procedure, Lady Justice Mugenyi ruled that the East African nation had failed to adduce to the court that Mr Ngoga wasn't fairly elected.

She further held that there was no evidence that members from Burundi and Tanzania weren't in the debating chamber when the election process got underway.

"Burundi and Tanzania participated in the election, which is why they floated names of nominees for the speaker's seat," she ruled. The regional court further ruled that members from both EAC partner states were present within EALA's precinct, thus constituting the prerequisite quorum.

It maintained that both countries were represented in the election of Mr Ngoga, despite the fact that some opted not to cast their ballots. Under EALA rules of procedure, there is a quorum if half of the elected members of the assembly are present.

These members must include at least one-third of the elected members from each partner state. In the same vein, the court expunged, Mr Nestor Kayobera's affidavit, on grounds that it failed to validate that the MPs had gone missing during the election process.

The court further ordered both parties to bear their own costs. Mr Kayobera, a counsel representing Burundi, had earlier claimed that the polls were held in the absence of lawmakers from Burundi and Tanzania, contrary to EALA Rules of Procedure and tenets of the treaty.

Speaking shortly after the verdict, Ugandan lawmaker, Mr Fred Mukasa Mbidde who was the intervener in the reference number 2 of 2018, urged partner states to accord EALA its due respect and not to subject it to a barrage of complaints.

He urged the member states to let lawmakers to do their job, irrespective of where each member comes from. "We are all East Africans serving East Africans," he said.

On his part, Mr Kayobera was non-committal on the verdict. Mr Ngoga was in 2017 elected Speaker, despite a boycott by members from Burundi and Tanzania.

Both countries had, alongside Rwanda, submitted names of candidates to compete for the seat.

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