EALA rejects Burundi’s recall of representatives

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will not force four Burundian members from the house as requested by the Burundi government, House Speaker, Dan Kidega has confirmed.

The resolution was confirmed Wednesday after Kidega met the four members – Jeremie Ngendakumana, Martin Nduwimana, Yves Nsabimana and Frederique Njenzebuhoro to discuss the matter further.

“After consultations with the CTC (Counsel to the Community (CTC), we found that Burundi’s request is not tenable and does not go with terms and treaties that establish EALA. I wrote to my counterpart Pascal Nyabenda, the Speaker of the Assembly of Burundi and explained to him the matter,” Kidega said in an interview on Tuesday.

“We have a strong framework on how to elect and suspend members from the house – these are clear laws that nobody is allowed to violate, so we cannot go further than that.”

Kidega also dispelled rumours that Burundi was on the verge of sending four new replacements to the house, noting that he will travel to Bujumbura to discuss with its leaders on how to quell the matter.

There is also worry among house members who have become “very conscious of the politics between our partner states,” according to Kidega.

Under rule three of the East African Legislative Assembly Rules of Procedure, members of the Assembly shall exercise their mandate independently and shall not be bound by any instructions or orders from any person or authority regarding the exercise of their mandate.

Observers on Burundi say that the decision to recall four of its nine EALA members is a “shameful political move” by the parliament and political parties in favor of Nkurunziza’s rule, which could harm the bloc’s integration’s programs.
However, the four are “not eligible to represent their country”, according to their party leaders.

Party campaigns

“It is a decision made by UPRONA Political Party because those members didn’t show their responsibility during the electoral periods to support the party during campaigns or other activities,” said Concilie Nibigira, chairperson of UPRONA Political Party, where Frederique Njenzebuhoro and Martin Nduwimana belonged.

UPRONA political party broke into two factions last year. Only one of those factions which is led by Nibigira is recognized by Nkurunziza’s government as legitimate.

One of the four, Jeremie Ngendakumana – who is a former Nkurunziza ally, said in an exclusive interview that this is politics at play, considering that all those who were recalled are firm critics of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s refusal to relinquish power.

“President Nkurunziza wants us to lose our seats because we disagree with his manner of politics. I don’t speak for the rest but he should know that I just cannot lose this seat just because I disagree with the government,” Ngendakumana said.

“I was lawfully elected to EALA and I don’t represent the government but the citizens of Burundi and the citizens of East Africa in general.”

Ngendakumana – who has since fled the country – was among 50 members of CNDD-FDD who were earlier this year expelled from the party after petitioning Nkurunziza not to run for a third term.

The fourth MP, Yves Nsabimana, whose political party FRODEBU has no representation in the Burundian parliament, is among fifteen other small parties which boycotted the July presidential elections.

Burundi speaker of Parliament and CNDD-FDD chairperson Pascal Nyabenda declined to comment on the matter.