The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has sworn in new members of the regional parliament for the 5th assembly this Monday in the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
Since its establishment in 2001, the assembly has had five speakers from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda (2) and Rwanda.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has now sent in nine members for the first time since the country joined the East African Community in March this year.
The swearing-in ceremony was attended by officials from partner states including ministers, speakers of the senate and the national parliaments and former EALA speakers among others.
“I would like to thank everyone who attended the swearing-in ceremony and today is the end of conducting this duty as tomorrow members will be electing a new speaker,” said the clerk of EALA Alex Obatre after swearing in new regional lawmakers.
Burundi and South Sudan on Tuesday 20th are expected to compete for the position of the assembly’s Speaker with Burundi fronting the country’s ruling party deputy secretary general Joseph Ntakarutimana for the position. South Sudan had until Monday evening two female candidates Anne Itto and Gai Deng.
In 2017, Burundi and Rwanda competed for the speakership of the regional assembly that culminated with the outgoing speaker Martin Ngoga winning the secret ballot elections against Burundi’s Leontine Nzeyimana.
South Sudan has come out as a competitor due to a lack of clarification in the treaty establishing the EAC on the order partner states can take over the office.
Article 53(1) of the treaty indicates that “the Speaker of the Assembly shall be elected on a rotational basis by the elected members of the Assembly from among themselves to serve for a period of five years.”
According to RULE 7 (9) (d) of the EALA rules of procedure a member shall not be elected as Speaker unless he or she is supported by votes of two-thirds of all members of the House and if no candidate is supported by the votes of two-thirds of all members, a further ballot shall be held between the first two candidates.
And Rule 7 (5) indicates that “the election of a Speaker shall be by secret ballot.”
The Speaker of the regional assembly is elected from the members by the members and serves a term of five years.
With now the joining of DRC into the East African Community the members of EALA will increase to 63 from the initial 54, the regional lawmakers serve for a term of five years renewable once.