East African Legislative Assembly; Lusaka, Zambia; 23 March 2016:
The EALA Speaker Rt Hon. Daniel Fred Kidega held respective bilateral meetings with the Speaker of the Parliament of South Sudan, Rt Hon. Magok Rundial and the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Rt Hon. Pascal Nyabenda on the side-lines of the on-going 134th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in Lusaka, Zambia. The meetings discussed on matters of mutual interest between EALA and the respective Parliaments in particular and on regional integration in general.
In his meeting with the Speaker of the Parliament of South Sudan, Rt Hon. Magok Rundial, the Speaker said EALA welcomed the expansion of bloc and said plans were underway to build the capacity of the Parliament ahead of the accession to the Treaty.
“While we appreciate the steps been taken by the Republic of South Sudan to sign the accession Treaty, we want to meet with legislators of South Sudan soon so that the Members are fully briefed”, Speaker Kidega remarked.
He said EALA had previously enjoyed cordial relations with the Parliament of the Republic of South Sudan and added the admission of the new Partner State to the bloc would further cement the goodwill.
“We are looking forward to the increased number of Members of EALA from South Sudan and in this regard, therefore, we welcome consultations and engagements”, he added.
On his part, the Speaker of the Parliament of South Sudan, Rt Hon. Magok Rundial said his country was elated to be part of the EAC family.
“In accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, there is a legal procedure of bringing the accession before the National Assembly. This is going to take place, and upon approval of the House, the President shall then write the letter of accession,” he said.
At the 17th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held in Arusha early this month, the Summit designated the Chairperson, H.E. Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli to sign the accession with the Republic of South Sudan.
It is expected that the Parliament of South Sudan shall thereafter elect nine Members under Article 50 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament (South Sudan) to EALA.
According to Article 50, the Members must not be Sitting Members of Parliament of South Sudan and shall in as much as is feasible, represent the various political parties in the National Assembly, shades of opinion and special interest groups in the Partner State.
In his earlier meeting with the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly, Rt Hon. Kidega said EALA continued to appeal for peace to prevail in the country and urged legislators in Burundi as the peoples’ representatives, to strive for stability. He remarked that EALA was appreciative of the role of the Summit of EAC Heads of State, adding that home-grown solutions were instrumental in ensuring stability in the country and in the region.
The EALA Speaker briefed his counterpart from the Burundi National Assembly on EALA’s recent debate on the petition brought before the House by regional civil society groups under the aegis of the Pan-African Lawyers Union (PALU).
He rooted for dialogue as key in resolving the issues in the country so that it may tackle some of the existing challenges such as poverty.
Rt Hon. Kidega further termed the recent appointment of Liberat Mfumukeko, an East African of Burundian origin as the new Secretary General of the East African Community, as a vote of confidence by the Summit of the EAC Heads of State.
He remarked that a visit to Burundi by Members of the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Committee and himself (EALA Speaker) would take place shortly.
In his response, the Speaker of the Parliament of Burundi, Rt Hon. Pascal Nyabenda stated that his Parliament was keen to see progress in the country.
In the delegation was the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Niyonzima Anicet, Hon. Niyonzima Constantin, Hon. Nizigiyimana Benoite, Hon. Asha Karafan, Hon. Ruhuna Venant and Hon. Irakoze Lydia.
The IPU which is themed: “Rejuvenating Democracy: Giving Voice to the Youth,” is expected to end later today.
A new report released at the Assembly dubbed “Youth participation in national Parliaments 2016”, states that youth continue to be chronically under-represented in the world’s Parliaments at a time when the global youth population is the largest it has ever been in history.
According to the report, only 1.9% of the world’s 45,000 Parliamentarians are aged below 30, a fact it deems undesirable.
In his recent remarks, the EALA Speaker pushed for youth engagement in politics in line with the African Youth Charter.
“Youth make up about 60% of the world’s population but unfortunately, disparity in representation in Parliaments is extremely undesirable”, the EALA Speaker was quoted as saying.
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