East Africa: EAC Speakers Question S. Sudan, Rwanda Absence From Meeting

11 December 2019

The Speakers of parliaments from the East African Community (EAC) member states yesterday questioned the absence of Rwanda and South Sudan from the annual forum held at Kampala Serena Hotel to discuss regional integration.

There was no explanation from Rwanda for not attending the meeting and the ongoing EAC inter-parliamentary games in Kampala.

South Sudan, which was supposed to take over the chair of the Bureau of the EAC Speakers Forum from Burundi, was not represented as well.

The seat was instead given to the Speaker of Kenya's National Assembly, Mr Justin Muturi, who was supposed to take over from South Sudan's speaker next year. Mr Muturi described his new role as a pleasant surprise that came as a result of a default.

The outgoing chair of the Forum and also the speaker of the Burundian Parliament, Mr Pascal Nyabenda, said South Sudan Speaker Anthony Lino Makana had resigned.

"There are issues in South Sudan that forced the Speaker to resign. We shall therefore handover the chair to the Speaker of Kenyan Parliament," he said.

The South Sudan team, however, is participating in the EAC inter-parliamentary games.

The national parliaments from member states and the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) are in Kampala to compete in different sports activities that include football, netball and volley ball as part of strengthening the community.

Mr Makana was forced to resign on Monday following accusations by fellow MPs for failing to present the auditor general and anti-corruption reports to Parliament.

They also accused him of approving a loan of $400 million (Shs1.4 trillion) from Afrexim Bank without parliamentary approval.

Uganda's Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said Rwanda and South Sudan should explain their absence from the meeting.

"We congratulate the community for the 20 years anniversary despite some challenges. As we celebrate, we take note of the absence of Rwandans who are not here without an explanation. As a host, I would like to know why they are not here," she said.

Ms Kadaga also said some member states were not paying their EAC annual subscription fee in time.

"The burden of contribution has been left mainly to Uganda and Kenya. These contributions are really needed to facilitate the EAC secretariat," she said.

Others in attendance

The meeting was also attended by Kenya's Speaker of the Senate Kenneth Lusaka, who supported the idea of having national parliaments in the EAC have daycare centres for breastfeeding legislators.

Ugandan Parliament is the only assembly in EAC with such a centre.

Tanzania's deputy Speaker of Parliament Tulia Ackson said the EAC inter-parliamentary games is key for unity and regional integration.

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