Burundi’s case challenging the election of the EALA Speaker, Martin Ngoga, heard by the East African Court of Justice.

Burundi government had filed a case to the East African Court of Justice challenging the election of the Rwandan, Martin Ngoga, a current speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly.

THE BIG PICTURE: The current Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly is Hon Martin Ngoga from the Republic of Rwanda, he was elected on 19th December 2017. The position of the Speaker is rotational and serves a period of five years. However, his election sparked many controversies from Burundi and Tanzania.

 The First Instance Division on Monday, March 11, 2019, heard the case filed by the government of Burundi (Applicant) challenging the process of electing the current Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) which was held on 19th December 2017, the EAC website reports.

The Applicant argues that the elections that were held in the absence of the Honourable Members of the Republic of Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania are in violation of the fundamental Principles of the Community under Articles 6 (d), 7 and 57 (1) and Rule 12 (1) of EALA Rules of Procedure.

Mr. Nestor Kayobera, the Counsel representing Burundi, submitted to the court for hearing.Mr. Kayobera also contended that the issue of quorum is a Treaty obligation under Article 57 and rule 12 (1) of EALA Rules of Procedure which provides that; The quorum of the House or of the Committee of the Whole House shall be half of the elected Members and such quorum shall be composed of at least one third of the elected Members from each Partner State”.  He argued that violation of the rule on quorum entails the violation of the Treaty, the EAC website adds.

The current speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly(EALA) was elected while Burundi and Tanzania had boycotted the vote, claiming the violations of the principles of good governance and Rule of Law.

‘Burundi states that the EALA Speaker was not elected in accordance with the law’.

Mr. Kayobera said that the Speaker of EALA was not elected in accordance with the Treaty and the Rules of the Assembly and therefore asked the Court to order re-election in accordance to the Treaty and rules of the Assembly.

However, even if Burundi challenge this election not to be in accordance with the law, and that every member should have taken part in voting, Dr. Anthony Kafumbe, representing the Secretary-General, stated that it is not mandatory for every member to vote, hence the Members of Burundi and Tanzania had liberty not to vote.

Rule 6 (9) (c) states that; “After all Members who wish to vote have voted, the Clerk shall in full view of the Members present, empty the ballot box and immediately count the ballot paper contained in it”, the EAC proceeds.

‘The issue of quorum not mandatory’.

 

Dr. Anthony Kafumbe argued that the issue of a quorum does not apply, that it only applies when the house is duly constituted.

He, therefore, submitted that there was no illegal election process, that the Speaker was elected under relevant provisions of the Rules of procedure of the Assembly and that the election process did not violate the Treaty.

Dr. Kafumbe also contended that Members of the Assembly have accepted the Speaker and a lot of business is going on and therefore, it would not be helpful to nullify the election and order fresh election.

The Court will deliver the judgment on notice.

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