The Burundi parliament on Wednesday 14th approved the nine members who will represent the country in the 5th parliament of the East African Legislative Assembly.
“We hope we are going to deliver our utmost and serve the community and we are looking forward to take the speakership,” said one of the EALA members.
Despite the exercise sailing through in the parliament, the leading opposition party National Congress for Liberty (CNL) boycotted the process claiming that they were not aware of the agenda of the plenary.
“Members of the parliament from CNL did not participate in a plenary session of September 14, 2022 for which the request of the session has not been notified. The national Assembly met to elect members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) without consulting neither the CNL party nor the Parliamentary group from CNL party,” a statement reads from the CNL party.
While addressing the National Assembly in his opening remarks, Daniel Gelase Ndabirabe the Speaker of Burundi’s Parliament said that “we are gathered here to fulfill the request of EALA to send the names as soon as possible. Today is the due day to elect those members.”
“Some have asked about today’s agenda, I hope they are informed now from where they are. We have heard that they will not enter if they are not informed about the agenda. We are only here to vote,” emphasized Mr. Ndabirabe.
However the absence of the CNL members did not prevent the National Assembly from holding the session and voting for the EALA members, among 104 parliamentary members 82 were present in the plenary and met the required quorum stipulated in article 180 of the country’s constitution.
Article 180 of constitution indicates that the national assembly can only make decision when two-third of the MPs are taking part of the session.
Of the 15 pre-selected candidates to represent Burundi in the EALA, 9 were needed which comprised of 6 from the ruling party CNDD-FDD; Joseph Ntakirutimana (currently the deputy Secretary General of the CNDD-FDD), Gabriel Ntisezerana (former Burundi 2nd Vice President 12th Feb.2007-August 25th 2010. Victor Burikukiye, Saidi Kibeya , Jean Marie Muhirwa and Mo-mamo Karerwa.
CNL got one representative Kathy Kezimana, one member from UPRONA Olivier Nkurunziza and Goreth Bigirimana from the minority ethnic group Twa.
According to the Elections Act 2011 of the EALA, article 4 indicates that the National Assembly of Each partner state shall in accordance with its rules of procedure not from among its members, nine members of the assembly.
It should be noted that the EALA has a membership of 9 members from each member state including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
With the 5th EALA around the corner that is expected to conduct their businesses in December this year, DRC which joined the community early this year is also expected to elect the EALA members making the total number of EALA members to 63 from 54. The regional law makers serve for a term of five years renewable once.
Burundi is expected to take the speakership of the 5th Assembly after Rwanda’s Martin Ngoga completes his term late this year, however Gitega is expected to face a tough competition.
Sources told Burundi Times that one of the member states is expected to compete with Burundi in the 5th assembly for the speakership due to the lacuna in the treaty establishing the East African Community.
Article 53(1) of the treaty indicates that the Speaker of the Assembly shall be elected on rotational basis by the elected members of the Assembly from among themselves to serve for a period of five years.
Burundi, South Sudan and DRC are the only member states yet to take up the position of the speakership of the regional assembly.