Stalemate at EALA as Tanzania, Burundi walk out

All was set for the election of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) speaker at the resumption of the regional parliament’s sittings in Arusha, Tanzania, but the process could not go on after a walk-out by Tanzania and Burundi.

Both countries presented candidates for speakership, but it’s Rwanda’s Martin Ngoga who appeared to have overwhelming support. Ngoga’s nomination was seconded by nearly all members from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and new entrant, South Sudan, while Burundi’s Leontina Nzeyimana and Tanzania’s Adam Kisimbi were seconded by their respective members.

The Burundians and Tanzanians walked out leading to the cancellation of the proceedings. The EALA clerk, Kenneth Madete adjourned the session for 15 minutes but even on resumption, the two member states did not return.

Burundi’s Leontina Nzeyimana (L) is vying for EALA speakership
The rules require the presence of at least three representatives from each of the member states. Madete adjourned the session again but still, that was not enough to get the Tanzanians and Burundians from the corridors into the chamber.

Burundi wants the assembly to consider the alphabetical order of the countries’ names to hand them the speakership while Tanzania says at the time it held the speakership, the community had only three member states.

These arguments were rejected by other delegates, the most outspoken being Uganda’s Fred Mukasa Mbidde, Susan Nakawuki, George Odong and Mathias Kasamba.

In the corridors, meanwhile, rumours of bribery went around claiming that a minister from one of the two boycotting member states was bribing the members.

Julius Maganda, Uganda’s state minister for EAC affairs, told The Observer that one of the EALA members had confessed to him having received money from the said minister. After the suspension of the day’s business, Ugandan and Rwandan delegates were forced into meetings to plot for Tuesday.

Maganda told The Observer that they called in legal experts to interpret the EAC treaty and the EALA rules of procedure to enable the election of the speaker to proceed even in the absence of Burundi and Tanzania.

Written by Sadab Kitatta Kaaya