Arusha, Tanzania – On 29 April 2016, Speakers from the national parliaments of the East African Community (EAC) region and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) came together to take part in the 11th annual Meeting of the EAC Bureau of Speakers in Arusha, Tanzania.
The main objective of the one-day meeting was to create the necessary platform for EALA – the legislative arm of the EAC – and the national Speakers to exchange ideas and discuss weighty matters of relevance to the EAC integration process.
The annual meeting also aimed to further develop parliamentary practices and procedures, as well as strengthening cooperation between EALA and the EAC national parliaments. As such, the Speakers deliberated on important issues in the process of EAC integration requiring action from EALA and the National Assemblies.
Specifically, the 11th Meeting of the EAC Bureau of Speakers, which was jointly funded by EALA and AWEPA, saw the Speakers revisit and further amend the Rules of Procedure governing the Forum.
The Speakers expressed their optimism that the operationalisation of the East African Parliamentary Institute (EAPI), expected to take place in the next Financial Year, would go the mile in building capacities in parliamentary practice for legislators, parliamentary staff and other stakeholders and contribute to widening and deepening integration.
In addition, the Meeting saw EALA Speaker, Hon Daniel Fred Kidega take over the Chair from the Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania, Hon Job Ndugai.
In his remarks, Hon. Kidega reiterated the Bureau’s enormous contribution in strengthening the role of EAC Parliaments in the integration process. He extended his appreciation to the Speakers of all the National Legislatures for the support extended to EALA during the plenary sittings in their respective parliaments. In addition, he noted that parliamentary elections in the region have by and large been democratic, contributing to the consolidation of democracy in the EAC.
The Speakers’ Meeting was preceded by a meeting of Clerks on 27-28 April 2016, which reviewed the mandate of the Bureau, revised modalities of operationalisation of the EAPI and addressed a number of topical issues on emerging challenges in legislature in the region.
Key quotes on EAC integration from the Meeting:
“I note that in 2015, new Members were elected to the Parliaments of Burundi and Tanzania and in year 2016, citizens of Uganda elected their representatives to the Parliament of Uganda. In the coming year, the Bureau expects citizens of the Republic of Kenya and the Republic of Rwanda to go through the same democratic process of giving their representatives fresh mandate.“
Hon. Daniel Kidega, Speaker of EALA
“Violent acts are becoming instruments of insecurity and therefore, we must confront the challenges being faced by the region. There is need for the region to act as “brothers and sisters” keepers and to help to find lasting solutions.”
Hon. Ekwee Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya
The Bureau of the EAC Speakers is the umbrella body that EALA and the National Assemblies utilise to champion the cause of parliaments in the region – that of enacting legislation, oversight and representation. It plays a key advisory role to the Summit of the EAC Heads of State.
The Bureau holds meetings annually under the guidance of a Chair who is elected under the principle of rotation. The inaugural meeting of the Bureau of Speakers was held in May 2008.