Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – AWEPA facilitated the organisation of an Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar in Dar es Salaam on 3-4 March 2016. The Seminar was the ninth in the Nanyuki Series organised by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). The theme of Nanyuki IX was “Compliance with regional and sub-regional norms and principles governing democratic elections: a case of the EAC”.
Participants of the Seminar included the National Assemblies of the East African Community (EAC) Partner States, the EALA, EAC Ambassadors who hold office in Tanzania, the EAC Secretariat, EAC Ministers and Ministry officials in the respective EAC Partner States, representatives from the private sector, local governments, civil society, youth and academia.
The Seminar took place at a critical moment since all EAC Partner States have either recently concluded or are about to hold elections. The discussions centred around the three key concepts of democracy, elections and the rule of law as well as the relationship among them.
A key objective of Nanyuki IX was to enhance the capacities of parliamentarians to perform their core function in preventing electoral and related electoral conflicts.
Furthermore, the Seminar aimed to allow the parliaments to showcase the relevance of election observation missions in strengthening electoral management processes in East Africa. Participants also discussed the role of parliamentarians and the EAC political federation in the prevention, management and resolutions of election related conflicts in the East African region.
Nanyuki IX was officially opened by the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan. In her remarks, the Vice President stressed that democracy, rule of law and elections were key components in the regional integration dispensation and necessary for progress and development. She called on parliaments to enact laws that promote peaceful political competition and to follow up on the commitments of the National Election Management Bodies with regards to building the electoral systems that underpin Africa’s democracy.
AWEPA was represented at the event by Governing Council member Mr. John Corrie, who remarked that elections in the region had continued to present challenges which need to be overcome. He reiterated AWEPA’s continued commitment to supporting the region and lauded EALA for its contribution to regionalism and Parliamentary Democracy through effective legislation, representation and oversight.
Some quotes from the Seminar:
“Democracy, rule of law and human rights are today key concepts that are close to development. The political, social and economic governance of our countries and blocs would be negatively affected if we ignore the adherence to these universally agreed principles.”
“It is important that we in the region, and continent for that matter, strive to enhance and strengthen good governance through the institutionalisation of accountability and participatory democracy.”
H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania
“The amount of energy invested in resolving the conflicts including the evidence of writing of new constitutions is critical in generating some lessons on the theme of institution building.”
Hon. Daniel Kidega, Speaker of EALA
“When elections in East Africa go wrong, the consequences are felt in the neighbouring States including instability of trade, and movement of persons.”
Hon. Job Ndugai, Speaker of the Parliament of Tanzania
Under the provisions of Article 49 of the EAC Treaty, EALA is required to liaise with the National Assemblies of the EAC Partner States on matters relating to the Community. The Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar is one of the avenues through which EALA and the National Assemblies interact. More specifically, the Seminar series serves to strengthen the functional relationship between EALA and the EAC National Parliaments and to widen and deepen knowledge of the EAC and the integration process. The first Seminar in the series was held in Nanyuki, Kenya in June 2004.