Burundi’s falling out with the East African Community has now escalated to the legislative assembly, with the country’s parliament seeking to recall four of its regional legislators.
Pascal Nyabenda, Speaker of Burundi’s parliament, wrote to the East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Daniel Kidega informing him of the intention to recall four out of its nine representatives.
The four representatives — Jeremie Ngendakumana, Martin Nduwimana, Frederic Ngenzebuhoro and Yves Nsabimana — are reportedly not members of the ruling CNDD-FDD party and live outside Burundi out of fear for their security.
The EALA Speaker rejected the request, saying it contravened the regional assembly’s laws. EALA members, sitting in Kigali for their plenary sessions, also rejected Burundi’s decision.
Abubakar Ogle from Kenya brought a motion to the floor, and the members resolved “to uphold the rights of every elected member to complete their tenure without their rights and privileges being curtailed through intimidation, harassment and threat of physical harm to themselves and their families”.
According to Mr Ogle, EALA members are elected under the provisions of the EAC Treaty and their tenure is guaranteed.
“An EALA member can only cease membership if heshe is declared bankrupt, resigns or is mentally sick. It has to be something personal,” he said.
This is not the first time Burundi has recalled EALA members from the Assembly. In the previous parliament, the country recalled two MPs due to their differences with the ruling party.
The then Speaker Abdirahin Abdi declined to heed the request by the Burundian government.
In 2008, the regional Assembly, together with that of the EAC came to a standstill due to the election fiasco brought about by political grandstanding in the Kenyan parliament.
At that time, the Government of National Unity (GNU) decided to name all nominees to the Assembly against the standing orders of parliament.
As the stalemate persisted, the aggrieved opposition party (Liberal Democratic Party) and other parties went to the East African Court of Justice, obtained an injunction and had the elections nullified. A re-run of the elections in the Kenyan parliament did not produce any new result. The aggrieved parties gave up.
Two years later, a similar problem arose in Uganda. A court ruling nullified the election of all Ugandan MPs to EALA because the procedure followed was in breach of standing orders of the Ugandan parliament.
The seven seats of the elected EALA members were to be declared vacant but that did not happen.
Similar attempts were made last year when a section of Ugandan Members of Parliament from both the ruling party and the opposition vowed to recall all members representing Uganda from EALA after they moved a motion and suspended Margaret Zziwa from her position as Speaker. This did not come to pass.
SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN