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EALA Adopts New Rules of Procedure.

The Assembly on the afternoon of January 21, 2015 debated and adopted its new Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Procedure however take effect at the 5th Meeting of the 3rd Session in March 2015, following a Motion moved by Hon Dora Byamukama to suspend Rule 83(4) and Rule 87 that bring the new Rules of Procedure into immediate effect. The Motion for the transition period will allow for quality control, re-packaging and publishing of the Rules of Procedure according to the mover of the Motion.Salient points in the new Rules of Procedure include the introduction and definition of the Commission as established under Section 3 of the Administration of EALA Act 2012.  The Commission replaces the House Business Committee which hitherto performed similar roles.  The Seat of the Assembly has also been retained as Arusha in line with Article 136 of the Treaty for the EAC following a vote by the House to retain Rule 2 as is.The Rule 7 (9) on election of the Speaker was further amended to give it clarity. A Member shall now be elected Speaker when he or she is supported by votes of two thirds of the House.  In event that there is only one candidate, the revised Rule 7(8) stipulates that the House shall subject the candidature to approval through the secret ballot in a move aimed at ensuring the will of the House is realized. In the past, a sole candidate would automatically be declared elected and conducted to the chair. On the converse, the Speaker of the House may also be removed upon a Resolution of the House.  Herein, a motion for the same shall be tabled in the Assembly within 24 Hours of its receipt by the Clerk.  It shall then be referred to the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges who shall investigate and report the findings to the House.Another key amendment is with regards to Rule 13 on quorum. Now quorum shall constitute half of the elected Members that include in it, at least, a third of the elected Members from each Partner State.The amendments form part of the Report of the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee that was adopted today.The Report was presented by Hon Peter Mathuki who was yesterday elected as the Chair of the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee. The Report was arrived at during the 4 day technical working session (November 19-24th, 2014) that came up with the revised/amended Rules of Procedure. The technical working session saw Members go through the Rules via a clause by clause modality, proposing changes to the text, phrases or otherwise.   Over the last seven years, there has been plenty of work done by the Committee to review the Rules of Procedure.The Report anticipates that amended Rules of Procedures would strengthen the functions of the Assembly while taking into consideration the technological advancement provided for and that it would address unforeseen incidents and developments.During debate today, Members appreciated that the new Rules would ensure EALA’s activities in the House follow procedures.Hon Judith Pareno said the rules of engagement are key in any institution.   We have taken to ample time to look at the Rules. “What we have before us is not just a product of the sub-Committee and the Committee on Legal Rules, and Privileges but it reflects the majority of the thinking of Members,” the Honourable observed.“We want the powers to be shared and not necessarily weaken the Speakership – but again we need smooth running of the House”, she added.Hon Abubakar Zein said that observing Rule of Law was fundamental and binding to all. Hon Zein hailed the Chair Emeritus, of the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee, Hon Dora Byamukama for her astute leadership and welcomed the new Chair, Hon Peter Mathuki, whom he termed a champion when it comes to observing rule of law.Hon Taslima Twaha remarked that it was necessary to amend the Parliamentary prayers to reflect the current times while Hon Christophe Bazivamo called for modernisation of the Chambers including use of Information Technology and Communication.Hon Dora Byamukama remarked that it was important for the Assembly to have a code of conduct.Hon Frederic Ngenzebuhoro noted that the process had been on the cards for seven yearswhile Hon Bernard Mulengani who said the Rules were for posterity. “The Rules of Procedure are intended to build leaders and not rulers,” he addedHon Susan Nakawuki however attempted to move a Minority opinion/report contrary to the Committee Report, prompting the Speaker to direct that any matters related to the Rules be in tandem with the debate on the substantive Report.Hon Nakawuki remarked that the House needed more time to look at the Rules.She noted that the House made proposals on the Rules at a time when the House was not in a ‘sober’ mood since many had issues with the previous Speaker. She cited Rules 8(1), 9 (2) and (4) and 82. She was however ruled to be out of Order by the Speaker.Hon Chris Opoka-Okumu who chaired the technical meeting that reviewed the Rules of Procedure in November 2014, noted that Members were interested in guarding against the abuse of power.Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo remarked that the Treaty had made provision for what should transpire in absence of the substantive Speaker. “I thus recommend that we delete the clause on having a Speaker’s panel from the Rules,” she said.Hon Dr. Martin Nduwimana, Hon Joseph Kiangoi, Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza, Hon Mukasa Mbidde and Hon AbuBakr Ogle all supported the Motion.  Others were Hon Mike Sebalu, Hon Jeremie Ngendakumana, Hon Sarah Bonaya, and Hon Dora Byamukama.The Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Dr. Abdulla Saadala congratulated the House for deeming it fit to amend the Rules.The Rules of Procedure were first adopted by the first Assembly on 28th November 2001. Thereafter, they were amended in the year 2007-8, mainly, to take care of expanded membership of the Assembly, following the admission of the Republics of Burundi and Rwanda.Members are on record on several occasions to have expressed the need to amend certain provisions of the Rules either for purposes of providing clarity, consistency and/or practicability; or to take into consideration new developments over the years.During the Plenary Sitting in Kigali on October 28th, 2014, the (then) Speaker, Rt. Hon Margaret Nantongo Zziwa ruled that the Assembly commences review of the Rules of Procedure immediately.The ruling followed a Motion introduced by Hon Judith Pareno seeking to adjourn other business in the House until the review/amendment of the said Rules of Procedures were debated on as a matter of priority.The original debate on amendments was interrupted on the 26th March 2014 during the Session in Arusha, Tanzania, to allow for Members time to digest proposed amendments by the Legal Rules and Privileges Committee.Article 49 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community provides that the Assembly shall make its Rules of Procedure and those of the Committees.Earlier on January 21, 2015, the Chair of the Council of Ministers, Hon Dr. Abdallah Saadala laid on the table the Financial Statement and Estimates of Expenditure for the Supplementary Budget of the EAC for the Financial Year 2014/15.For detail click on the link below;http://www.eac.int/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1772:eala-adopts-new-rules-of-procedure-&catid=146:press-releases&Itemid=194       

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