EALA upholds tenure of four Burundi members

07Feb 2016
Our Reporter
Guardian On Sunday
EALA upholds tenure of four Burundi members

THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has urged partner states, organs and institutions of the Community to uphold and apply the principles and provisions enshrined in the Treaty in respect to privileges of members of EALA.

THE East African Legislative Assembly

 In this regard, it is now official that the tenure of the four members from Burundi whom the Burundi National Assembly had wanted recalled from the Assembly will be upheld.On Friday, the Assembly passed a report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on a resolution moved under Rule 30 (J) of the Assembly Rules and Procedures on the matter of members’ privileges arising from a threat of tenure of four members of EALA.  The report was presented by Peter Mathuki, chairperson of the committee.The resolution, moved in November 2015 by AbuBakr Ogle, had advised the Assembly to urge partner states not to introduce attempts to manipulate institutions, threaten members or undermine their status, terming such a move ‘unlawful and an affront to the principles under the EAC Treaty.’The resolution (then had) condemned in the strongest terms possible all attempts to undermine the authority of the Assembly and claims to the privileges and status of its members.  However, the committee, in its report on Friday, suggested and made changes to the resolution, reaffirming the position taken by the Speaker of EALA as communicated to the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly on the matter.In November 2015, the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Pascal Nyabenda, had written to the EALA Speaker, about ending of membership of the four members from Burundi. The four are Jeremie Ngendakumana, Frederic Ngenzebuhoro,  Yves Nsabimana and Dr. Martin Nduwimana.The letter stated that the conditions through which they (four members) presented themselves for elections had now changed. It said in part that the party on whose ticket two of the members were elected to EALA was no longer represented in the Burundi National Assembly. Two other members had, on their part, ceased to be members of their parties having duly resigned.In his response to the letter, Speaker of EALA, after consultations, noted that the request was not tenable owing to the fact that it had contravened Section 51 of the EAC Treaty. Hitherto, the Counsel to the Community offered legal opinion on the matter after acquaintance with the constitution of Burundi and the electoral laws of the country.The resolution, which was seconded by Dr. James Ndahiro, noted that matters pertaining to the privileges of members touched on the integrity and independence of the Assembly and that any threats brought with it a potential to undermining the authority of the Assembly and compromised its functions under the EAC Treaty.Justifying the matter on the floor of the House, Abubakr Ogle remarked that independence and privileges of the House were vital. The resolution further appealed to the organs and institutions of the Community to guarantee the safety and security of all members of EALA and staff, as well as those of other Institutions of the Community.The motion was moved under Rule 30 (j) of the Rules of Procedure which allows for a motion raising a question of privilege to be asked without notice.The resolution was however not debated. In its place, the EALA Speaker, Daniel Fred Kidega, made a ruling deferring the matter to the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges for immediate digestion.During debate, Abubakar Zein said the sovereignty of members of the Assembly was key and that it was imperative for the Assembly to analyze the context in which the letter was written as well as the impact it would have on them.  He said it was important for the members of the Assembly to feel safe to carry on with their mandate.