Press Statement by Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega, Speaker of EALA at the Commencement of 3rd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press;
I thank you for attending the Press Conference called this Morning to inform you the 3rd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly commences here at the Parliament of Rwanda from today until 4th December 2015.
At the outset, I wish to thank H.E. President Paul Kagame, the Government and the people of the Republic of Rwanda for accepting to host EALA. On a somber note though on behalf of the entire Assembly and on my own behalf, I proffer deep condolences to H.E. Paul Kagame, his family, relatives and friends and to the entire county following the demise of his beloved Mother, the late Mama Austeria Rutagambwa. May the Almighty God rest her soul in perfect peace and comfort the family.
I also thank the Speaker of the Parliament of Rwanda Chamber of Deputies, Rt Hon. Donatile Mukabalisa for extending to EALA the use of facilities of the Parliament over the period and for the warm and cordial relations between EALA and the Parliament of Rwanda.
The two-week period is going to be a busy one for the Assembly. As is customary, a Special Sitting shall be held tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24th, 2015. H.E. Paul Kagame has designated the President of the Rwanda Senate, H.E. Bernard Makuza to represent him. We are grateful to H.E. for his consistent and unwavering support to EALA.
Other notable business for consideration during the two week period will comprise:
- debate on the following pieces of legislations; the EAC Forest Management and Protection Bill, 2015 and the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2015. It is hoped all Bills shall respectively sail through the 2nd and 3rd Readings.
- debate and possible adoption of Reports of various Committees of EALA. One such key report is that of the Committee on Trade and Investment On-spot assessment of One-Stop Border Posts in the EAC which shall give us a score-card on the processes in place with regards to the implementation and its linkage to trade facilitation and the effect on the EAC business environment. You will recall that EALA passed the OSBP Bill, 2012 to facilitate, simplify and expedite border controls. The Committee on Accounts will also table for debate the Audited Financial Statements of EAC for the Financial Year ended 30th June 2014. Debate on all above reports are key for the integration process.
- Move key Resolutions and pose questions to the Council of Ministers on relevant matters in the integration process.
We further expect to hold consultations with a number of other stakeholders during our stay here in Kigali and its environs. We shall, for example, have a working dinner meeting with the Private Sector under the aegis of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation to discuss collaboration between both Institutions and the modes of strengthening the contribution of Private Sector in the integration process.
Such consultations inform the work of the Assembly as it undertakes its mandate of Legislation, Representation and Oversight. EALA is also going to participate in tree-planting occasion with the citizens over the weekend both as a way of enhancing outreach and conserving the environment.
The involvement of East Africans in the process is fundamental given the fact that integration is very much “a people-centred process”.
I also inform you that the Plenary Sitting shall be immediately thereafter be followed by the 6th Inter-Parliamentary Games taking place in a number of venues in the city on 4-11th December 2015. We encourage as many citizens as possible of this great Republic to turn up and to cheer up the teams as they network and connect with their legislators in the spirit of integration.
Ladies and gentlemen: I wish to report that the Assembly is today very solid, united and working towards the contractual obligations we have with the citizens of East Africa.
Since January 2015, the Assembly has held four Sittings in Bujumbura (March 2015), Arusha (June 2015), Kampala (August 2015) and Nairobi (October 2015) in line with its principle of rotation. In totality, we have enacted 8 Bills, passed 7 Resolutions and adopted 15 Reports in addition to a number of questions posed to the Council of Ministers. The Assembly has also received three petitions that are currently under review.
We congratulate the Partner States for their determination in seeing the integration process succeed. The pillars of integration - Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol continue to be on track notwithstanding the challenges we face in the implementation. As an Assembly, we are committed to anchoring relevant legislation to support the said Protocols. So far, we have passed a number of Bills including the EAC Customs Union Management Act, 2004 and subsequent Amendment Acts, as well as the EAC Competition Act, 2006.
Other related pieces of legislation currently undergoing assent include; The EAC One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), Bill, 2012, The EAC Vehicle Load Control Bill, 2012 and the EAC Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers Bill, 2015. EALA is looking at possible pieces of legislation that shall support the implementation of the Common Market Protocol.
Peace and Security is also a priority for EAC in the face of threats faced and occasioned by threats of the Al-Shabaab insurgents. We need to fast-track the ratification of the Peace and Security Protocol in the region to anchor the architecture and also operationalise joint activities that ensure a peaceful region. So far, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania have ratified the Protocol. When the region has peace, then there is unrivalled development and progress.
We take the opportunity to congratulate the United Republic of Tanzania for holding peaceful elections. We congratulate H.E. Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli following his election as the 5th President of the United Republic of Tanzania and wish him and his Government well as they steer the country to greater heights and prosperity.
While still on this subject matter, we as an Assembly appeal to the Government and the citizens of the Republic of Burundi to do all that it takes to restore peace and calm in the country. The Assembly regrets the current deteriorating situation in the country that has led to loss of lives, maimed others and damage of property. We must prevent a situation that would see the country further degenerate and slide into anarchy.
In the regard, we want to applaud the steps been taken by the EAC Heads of State towards mediation but to appeal to the Summit to up the momentum on the matter. I also want to inform you that we have duly received a petition on Burundi from the regional civil society and we shall in due course process it.
Generally, we are keen to see the region progress and to make leaps in its development. As an Assembly, we are pleased that the globe at the UN General Assembly in September 2015, adopted the post 2015 Agenda. This is good for the region in terms of its transformation. I congratulate the Summit Members for their attendance and participation at the UNGA.
EALA has already benefited from a 4-day training on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in order to effectively undertake oversight and possible legislation around sustainable development. We shall establish a Sub-Committee to oversee the implementation of the SDGs as a means to ensuring the region realises the set objectives of reducing poverty, achieving food security and enhancing gender equality amongst other development initiatives.
Finally, on behalf of the Assembly and on my own behalf, I wish to welcome all East Africans to follow the proceedings of the Assembly closely during the period either through the media (including social media platform) or in attendance. I wish to state that the EALA Sessions are open to citizens from all walks of life and it presents an opportunity to interact with the legislators and similarly for us, to touch base with citizens, thus enhancing our representative role.
I thank you all for your kind attention.