The newly elected Speaker of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Daniel Kidega outlined key priorities plans
ARUSHA, Tanzania – The newly elected Speaker of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Daniel Kidega last week outlined key priorities the regional assembly will focus in the next two and a half years.
He said for the past two years, EALA suffered a great deal due to the impasse occasioned by the leadership crisis however this should now remain in the past, He was addressing a news conference in Arusha ahead of the EALA Plenary Session.
The Assembly plenary resumed January 19th for two weeks in Arusha, the headquarters of the EAC, a regional bloc of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
“I can assure all East Africans that we shall indeed come out of this a stronger and more united assembly,” he said.
Kidega from Uganda was elected last year as new Speaker of the East African lawmaking and decision-making body following the impeachment of the former EALA Speaker, Margaret Zziwa, on grounds of incompetence and abuse of office.
“My administration will move with haste to tackle the backlog and to introduce new business for the assembly,” he said.
He further stated that EALA sessions will be open to citizens and have the opportunity to interact with the legislators and similarly for legislators to touch base with citizens and thus enhance representative’s role.
On combating terrorism he said: “We will spearhead for ratification and implementation of EAC protocols on peace and security which will enable collective efforts in combating cross-border crime like terrorism within and outside EAC partner states.”
During the Assembly sessions lawmakers will also debate EAC integration and cooperation. “Integration is a complex process that must pass through several stages. EALA is going to push people’s integration so that EAC citizens enjoy the regional benefits,” Kidega insisted.
“EALA members have toured all border posts within the region to identify non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and report to respective organs within member states for solutions,” said Kidega.
He said the assembly will continue with the principle of rotation as per the provisions of article 55 of the treaty for the establishment of East African Community. “EALA will continue to play a central role in the legislative framework and oversight to ensure the integration agenda remains smooth,” he said.
“The involvement of East Africans in the process is fundamental given the fact that it is very much “a people-centered process,” he said, noting that the assembly will continue to involve the citizens of the region using various platforms.
“We will reinforce collaboration with key stakeholders in the private sector, youth, women and the civil society, encourage the groupings to present petitions and to make input in the bill- making process,” the Ugandan said.
He said EAC is at an important phase in the integration process and EALA shall continue to provide the much needed impetus to enable regional integration through oversight and enactment of legislation that spurs regional integration.
The EAC supplementary budget for the financial year 2014/2015 is one of the top key issues on the agenda during the plenary.
The process for EAC supplementary budget to secure the funds will start during a meeting between EALA’s General Purpose Committee, EAC SG Dr. Richard Sezibera and ministers responsible for EAC affairs from all five partner states.
The 2014/2015 budget, which was presented in June of last year, amounted to over $124 million. Nearly 70 percent of EAC annual budget is donor funded, mainly from development partners, while only 30 percent are allocated by member states.
The EALA is the legislative arm of the EAC and is comprised of nine members and the regional cooperation minister from each partner state, along with the EAC SG and counsel. Elected members serve for five-year terms.