EAC adopts uniform rules on polls, judiciary

Sunday July 17 2011

A vehicle set ablaze during the Kenya post election violence of 2007-2008. Picture: File

The EAC has adopted a draft Protocol on good governance seeking to push for democratic elections and peaceful political transitions, potentially saving the region from recurring political instability.

The five countries have agreed to put in place mechanisms for the appointment of electoral management bodies to curb rising allegations of bungled elections.

Recent elections, for example in Kenya and Uganda, were marred by allegations of partisan electoral commissions.

If passed by the East Africa Legislative Assembly the draft sanctions regional citizens to question the manner in which such persons are appointed.

All members will also be required to establish adequate legal and institutional frameworks in finance management systems to combat rampant corruption across the region.

In 2010, Kenya’s anti-corruption team said it was handling cases worth $0.3 billion lost through graft annually, highlighting the uphill task it faces in holding to account those involved in graft. The stolen money was estimated to be able to run parliament and the education and medical services ministries for a year, excluding the hundreds of millions spent on investigations by the anti-corruption commission.


Uganda had set aside a budget of $120 million to fight corruptiona figure that shot upto more than $217 million with the difference ending up in ministers’ pockets. Such cases will now be taken tried at the regional level.

Each country will follow uniform mechanisms for appointment of judges to promote a fair justice system across the region, unlike in earlier cases where presidents would appoint judges. Kenya has already fallen into line with the public vetting of its current Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and his assistant Nancy Barasa.

The members agreed to establish a regional mechanism for election observation and evaluation, where fellow members would play a regional role during elections in the region.

If the draft is adopted before the end of this year, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will have a chance to witness Kenya’s 2012 general election.

Kenya electoral commission welcomed the move, saying it was timely for the country’s forthcoming general election with EAC playing an observatory and evaluation role.

The East African Court of Justice will also have the mandate to handle cases related to human rights abuse earlier deferred to the ICC.

EAC Deputy Secretary General, Beatrice Kiraso, urged the EAC to finalise the process of extending jurisdiction to the EACJ.

“We cannot continue to look to the ICC when we have the EACJ, which can serve as a middle ground between national judicial mechanism and international ones,” she said during a ministerial meeting in Zanzibar.

“Experts should sit and work on this document to conform to the member states’ principles,” explained Mathias Chikawe, Tanzania’s Minister for Good Governance.