Despite an April deadline, only two countries out of five in the East African Community (EAC) have set dates for elections to pick representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the East African News Agency (EANA) has learnt.
Burundi is scheduled to hold the elections on 14 April, this year while Tanzania will hold the polls on 17 April, this year. The other three EAC members – Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda – have not yet set dates for the elections.
According to a 9 February letter from the EALA Speaker, Abdirahin Abdi, to all Speakers of national parliaments in the EAC, member countries may hold the elections before 14 April.
“The term of the second EALA will come to an end on 4 June, 2012, and the new Assembly, the third East African Legislative Assembly, will also be inaugurated,” Abdi said in the letter availed to EANA.
This time around it will be the turn of Uganda to elect a Speaker for a non-renewable five-year term. The first Speaker was Abdulrahman Kinana from Tanzania (2001-2006), followed immediately by Abdi (Kenya).
EANA reporters in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda said the authorities in these countries had neither revealed the dates to hold the elections nor the lists of possible candidates.
Thomas Kashilila, Clerk to Tanzania’s National Assembly, told EANA that Tanzania’s nominations would be concluded by Tuesday and the list would be forwarded to the National Assembly in Dodoma for voting on April 17.
Tanzania’s ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has already selected 24 candidates to contest EALA’s eight positions allocated to it.
Opposition parties represented in Parliament have been allocated one seat, bringing to nine the total number of Tanzania’s representatives in the EALA. The rest of the EAC countries also have nine representatives each.
Among candidates proposed by CCM include Makongoro Nyerere, the son of Tanzania’s founding president, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
Nyerere was such a firm supporter of the East African Federation that he had even agreed to delay Tanganyika’s independence so as to take place at the same time with Kenya and Uganda - which would ease the merging of the three East African countries.
Makongoro is the current CCM chairman in his native region of Mara, in northern Tanzania, and his entry into EALA is expected to rekindle the late Nyerere's dream of a united and prosperous EA.
According to EANA sources, the third EALA may not be sworn in time, particularly because of Uganda, which is seeking legal advice on the nomination and election of EALA members.
Ugandan MPs have failed to agree on the procedure for selecting representatives to the EALA.
Nine elected members from each country and seven ex-officio members make up the membership of the EALA. Members are elected by the legislatures of each country.
Ex-officio members include ministers from each country responsible for regional cooperation, EAC Secretary General and Counsel.