Press Statement by Rt Hon. Daniel F. Kidega, Speaker of EALA at the Commencement of 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly
Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press;
I thank you for positively responding to our call this morning. I take this opportunity to inform you the 2nd Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd Assembly commences here at the Kenya National Assembly from today until 15th October 2015.
At the outset, I wish to thank H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Government and people of the Republic of Kenya for accepting to host EALA.
I also thank the Speaker of the Kenya National Assembly, Rt Hon. Justin Muturi 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 Kenya National Assembly.
The two-week period is going to be a busy one for the Assembly. H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta is expected to grace a Special Sitting and to address the Assembly, tomorrow, Tuesday, 6th October 2015.
Other notable business for consideration during the two week period will comprise:
- A Special Address – more or less a farewell address by H.E. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete in his capacity as outgoing President of United Republic of Tanzania and Chair of the Summit of EAC Heads of State. This occasion is expected to take place on 13th October 2015.
- Debate on the following pieces of legislations; The EAC Electronic Transactions Bill, 2014, the EAC Forest Management and Protection Bill, 2015 and the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Bill, 2015. It is hoped all Bills shall sail through the 2nd and 3rd Readings respectively.
- Debate and possible adoption of Reports of various Committees of EALA. One such key report is that of the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee on the Goodwill Mission to Kigoma, Tanzania and Eastern Province of Rwanda undertaken in March 2015 to interact with refugees from Burundi. This is key given the challenges the Partner State is facing.
- Move key Resolutions and pose questions to the EAC 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 to inform 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 integration is very much “a people-centred process”.
Since my ascension to the Speakership in December 2014, the Assembly has made tremendous progress. We have passed a total of 7 Bills, 7 Resolutions and adopted 13 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.
We are also happy that the globe has at the just-ended UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Post 2015 Development 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. Last month, EALA benefited from a 4 day training on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) thus preparing the Assembly for the big task ahead of oversight and possible legislation around sustainable development.
As a Parliament, our mantra in promoting SDGs is to ensure the region realises the set objectives of reducing poverty, achieving food security and enhancing gender equality amongst other development initiatives. The fate of the SDGs risks been sealed from inception if Parliaments do not enact their own action plans and take up the mantle on some of the relevant areas to their mandate of legislation, oversight and representation.
Another key area we as a Parliament are keen on concerns that of elections in the region. The United Republic of Tanzania is headed for its polls on 25 October 2015 while Republic of Uganda is expected to hold 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 processes 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. We stand firm that credible elections are absolutely essential in the democratic dispensation of the EAC.
Peace and Security is also a priority for EAC in the face of threats faced by terrorism 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 and the United Republic of Tanzania have ratified the Protocol. 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.