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Press Statement by Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega, Speaker of EALA at the Commencement of 1st Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly

Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press;

Good Morning!

Let me begin by thanking you for responding to our call this morning. I take this opportunity to inform you that the 1st Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly takes place here from today until 28th August 2015.

At the outset, I wish to thank H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the Government and people of the Republic of Uganda for accepting to host EALA.

I also thank the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda, Rt Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga for extending use of facilities of the Parliament to EALA over the period and for the warm and cordial relations between EALA and the Parliament of Uganda.

The two-week period is going to be a busy one for the Assembly. H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is expected to grace a Special Sitting and address the Assembly on Friday, 21st August 2015. I want to laud President Museveni for honouring all our invitations to the Special Sittings.

Other notable business for consideration during the two week period will comprise:

  1. debate on two key legislations; The EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014 and the EAC Creative Industries Bill, 2015. Both Bills are at 2nd Readings respectively and are expected to sail through to the 3rd Reading.
  2. debate and possible adoption of Reports of various Committees of EALA. One such key report is that of the Communication Trade and Investment on the Investment Strategies in the EAC Region. This is fundamental given the renewed interest the EAC region is attracting continentally and internationally. The Report of the Committee on General Purpose on the Legal Framework and implementation of policies on the rights of the Child in the EAC Partner States and another concerning Parliamentarians Policy dialogue on Climate and Gender shall also be debated.
  3. pose questions to the Council of Ministers on relevant matters in the integration process.
  4. outreach activities which shall for the first time take place in Northern Uganda and specifically, in Gulu Municipality. This involves tree-planting and a rally to spread the message of integration. The activity is expected to take place on Saturday, 22nd August 2015.

As is customary, we expect to hold consultations with a number of other stakeholders during our stay here. Such discussions often go a long way in informing the work of the Assembly to carry on with its mandate of legislation, representation and oversight. The involvement of East Africans in the process is fundamental given the fact that it is very much "a people centred process.

Since my ascension to the Speakership, the Assembly has made tremendous progress. We have passed a total of 6 Bills, 4 Resolutions and adopted 10 Reports. We have also received 2 petitions that are currently under review. The Assembly is thus very much on track, united and working towards the contractual obligations we have with the citizens of East Africa.

It is good to note that the Secretariat has now developed an internal mechanism which should be strengthened and monitored so that integration continues to be progressive. This is going to spur monitoring of the implementation of decisions and directives of the Council of Ministers.

We hope the Council of Ministers will fast-track its internal processes and bring forth Bills for debate in the House.

Another key area concerns elections whose cycle has commenced in the region. As EALA, we are cognisant of the fact that credible elections are absolutely essential in the democratic dispensation of the EAC. EALA recently led a delegation of EAC Observers at the elections in Burundi, a report of which has been made public.

The region is also gearing up for another election with the United Republic of Tanzania headed for polls later in October this year before Uganda holds a similar exercise in the first quarter of 2016. Our appeal to the Partner States is to ensure elections are held in a credible manner and that such fall within the ambits of constitutionalism and electoral laws.

I want to challenge the media as well to ensure effective and objective reporting. They must refrain from stirring emotions, but rather join in advocacy towards enhancing free, fair and credible elections.

In this regard, I hail the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Media, who in addition to advocating for Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression, recently launched a Media Manifesto 2016 to guide journalists to act professionally as they cover elections. This should be replicated around the region.

Related to this aspect is the need for Peace and Security which is a priority for the region in the face of threats faced by terrorism. 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. When the region has peace, then there is unrivalled development and progress.

Thus, 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.

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