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

Ladies & Gentlemen of the Press;

Before we commence the media briefing, I request us to all stand up in silence in memory of the fallen members of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) following the recent attack in El Adde, Somalia. May their souls rest in eternal peace.

This being the first official engagement with the media in 2016, I wish you and all East Africans a prosperous and fruitful year.

This media briefing is primarily convened to notify you of the commencement of the 4th Meeting of the 4th Session of the 3rd East African Legislative Assembly which takes place here at the EALA Chambers from today, 25th January 2016 to 5th February 2016.

Notable business for consideration during the two week session shall include:

  1. Consideration, debate and approval of various Reports of the Committees of EALA.
  2. Debate on the EAC Disaster Risk Reduction Bill, 2013, which is a fundamental piece of legislation providing a regional framework for timely intervention in disaster situations and to protect the people and the natural environment affected by disaster through comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management.
  3. Consider Reports arising from various petitions forwarded to the Assembly.

As you may be aware, petitions are one of the ways by which the Assembly enhances collaboration with the citizens of the great region. As an Assembly, we are vigilant and extremely keen to be at the forefront in “offering solutions to the people”.

Over the last few months, we have received key petitions from various EAC Stakeholders for consideration. Mid last year, EALA received a petition from the EAC Youth Ambassadors Platform urging the Council of Ministers to advocate for the establishment of the East African Youth Council that will leverage representation of all youth activities at the EAC. A second petition was forwarded by the East African Trade Union Confederation and East African Employers Association calling for streamlining of work and residence permits in line with the implementation of the Common Market Protocol. In November 2015, the Continental Lawyers’ body – Pan-African Lawyers Union and five other regional Civil Society Organisations also petitioned the Assembly on the deteriorating humanitarian rights facing the Republic of Burundi.

All petitions are currently a priority in our scheme of work and are under process in line with our Rules of Procedures.

The Assembly is however very keen on the last petition following the recent worrying developments in the Republic of Burundi. Last week, the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolutions Committee held a Public hearing workshop where it received contributions from members of the civil society and the opposition parties in Burundi. The Government of Burundi indicated then of its unavailability to attend and requested to be given a fresh date to present. I thank the Government for their positive response in sending a delegation led by the Vice Chair of the Ruling Party - CNDD-FDD to make their submissions this week. This reaffirms Burundi’s commitment to embrace dialogue aimed at ensuring peace and stability is regained in the nation.

At this point in time, I want to reiterate the Assembly’s appeal to the national, regional and international media to report factually and objectively on the situation.

Looking at other global matters that affect our region, EALA would like to see the EAC find permanent solution(s) to the despicable acts of terrorism. We condemn in the strongest terms possible, the recent attack (15th January 2016) on the KDF camp by al-Shabaab terrorists.

On behalf of the Assembly and on my own behalf, I wish to express solidarity with families of the dead, missing and injured KDF Soldiers. The Assembly also urges the international community to equally stand with Kenya in both word and action against these evil forces and in the war against terror. It should be remembered that the Republic of Kenya is yet to recover from the effects of last year’s attack by the al-Shabaab on the Garissa University.

On matters of democratisation, I commend the Government and people of the United Republic of Tanzania for turning out and peacefully participating in the electoral process during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 25th October 2015. In the same vein, I appeal for speedy conclusion to the pending elections in the isles of Zanzibar.

I also commend the Government and people of the Republic of Rwanda for the successful constitutional referendum held on 18 December 2015. Uganda is heading for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 18th February 2016 and we wish the Government and people of the Republic of Uganda successful elections. As EALA, we shall as we have done in all elections in the region, deploy an Elections Observation Mission.

Before I conclude I wish to state that the scorecard of the Assembly has improved following the tremendous progress we realised in 2015. Over the last 12 months, the Assembly received 4 petitions and passed 9 Bills, 10 Resolutions and 20 Reports. The Assembly also streamlined its instruments of Governance including the Rules of Procedure and the Code of Conduct for members and Committees. This is crucial given the fact that EALA had a number of challenges within it a year before.

I am confident that with the support of my colleagues and the Council of Ministers, we can pass at least one to two Bills per sitting and many more Resolutions and Reports, during the balance of term in Office and thus, contribute to improving the lives of East Africans. We shall strengthen collaboration even further during the balance of the term in Office.

The Assembly is also keen to see speedy operationalisation of the Community Laws within the Partner States so as to fortify the integration process. We shall continue to consult with our National Assemblies in the Partner States as envisaged under Article 65 of the EAC Treaty and with the Council of Ministers to ensure municipal laws are amended to conform to our regional legislation on matters of purview within the EAC.

I want to thank the Summit of the EAC Heads of State for the guidance towards strengthening the integration process. I assure the Summit of our unequivocal support as representatives of the people and of our commitment to play the part in delivering results.

Finally, I call on you, the Media to attend and fully cover the events of EALA over the next two weeks. I also invite East Africans of all walks of life to closely monitor the proceedings of the Assembly closely during the period.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

East African Community
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