The EAC Heads of State Summit may have to determine the regional Assembly’s sittings when they meet on February 27.
This follows a lack of consensus among legislators on the number of sittings the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) should hold in the remaining five months of the 2020/21 financial year.
The debate was set off by Susan Nakawuki-Nsambu from Uganda at Eala’s January 27 virtual session.
Ms Nakawuki-Nsambu said it was inappropriate for the Council of Ministers to be seen to be assuming the role of the Assembly, whereas the EAC Treaty Article 14(3) reiterates the need for the Council to give directions to all institutions of the Community with the exception of the Heads of State summit, Eala and the East African Court of Justice.
“The rules of procedure of the Assembly provide for up to 80 days of sitting, and the Council cannot be seen to usurp this aspect,” she said.
Under the 2020/21 budgetary vote of $97 million, the EAC Secretariat is to receive $48.5million and Eala gets $16.7 million. The Committee on General Purpose realigned Eala’s activities in line with a budget allocation of $16 million, but the Council of Ministers called for the reduction of the number of Eala sittings from 21 to 14, a move the Assembly protested saying it was tantamount to micromanaging their activities.
The six EAC partner states are divided on the matter with Burundi and Tanzania in favour of 14 days following the reconsideration of the budgetary ceiling from $104 million to $97 million due to constraints caused by the pandemic. Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and South Sudan want Eala to determine their sittings as provided for by the Assembly’s standing orders and the EAC Treaty.
Rwanda’s Minister for EAC Affairs and chair of the Council of Ministers, Manasseh Nshuti, called for consensus.