Kenya, South Sudan cripple EALA operations

South Sudan President Salva Kiir withdrew its nine members to EALA over a legal matter. PHOTO | FILE
South Sudan President Salva Kiir withdrew its nine members to EALA over a legal matter. PHOTO | FILE 

Kenya and South Sudan have crippled the operations of the East African Legislative Assembly, with Juba withdrawing its nine members and Nairobi failing to nominate its nine at the end of the 11th Parliament.

Diplomatic sources in Juba say that President Salva Kiir was trying to avoid a ruling against South Sudan by the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) , after a national went to court claiming that the elections of the nine members on March 14 were illegal.

Wani Santino Jada filed an application at the EACJ that the elections were against the East African Community Treaty rules on election of EALA members, and sought to bar the swearing in of members and recognition of those from South Sudan. 

Mr Jada had listed the respondents as the EAC Secretary General, the Speaker of Parliament of South Sudan and the Attorney-General of the Republic of South Sudan.

The applicant states that President Kiir appointed nine members in contravention of Article 50 of the EAC Treaty on EALA elections.

On June 5, a five-judge EACJ bench handed interim orders to the Clerk of the Assembly, Kenneth Madete, barring the swearing in of EALA members and recognition of those from South Sudan.

The nine MPs were handpicked by President Kiir through a presidential decree and were approved by the national parliament in March. They are Gai Dheng Nhial, Joseph Okelle, Ann Itto, Gabriel Garang, Gabriel Alaak Garang, Thomas Duoth, Gedion Gatpan Thoan, Isaa Aiz Justin and Adil Elias.

Article 50 (1) says the National Assembly of each partner state shall elect, not from among its members, nine members of the Assembly, who shall represent as much as it is feasible, the various political parties represented in the National Assembly, shades of opinion, gender and other special interest groups in that partner state, in accordance with such procedure as the National Assembly of each partner state may determine.

Section 2 of the same Article says that a person shall be qualified to be elected a member of the Assembly by the National Assembly of a partner state: is a citizen of that partner state; is qualified to be elected a member of the National Assembly of that partner state,  is not holding office as a minister in that partner state; is not an officer in the service of the Community; and has proven experience or interest in consolidating and furthering the aims  and the objectives of the Community.

The clerk on May 31 suspended the sitting of the 4th Assembly indefinitely on the basis that Kenya had not elected its members.

Bobi Odiko, the senior public relations officer at EALA said that the most the Assembly could do in this instance is to swear in the other members elected from the partner states, but it cannot proceed any further nor transact any business without Kenya and South Sudan.

Experts on regional economic bloc say that the suspension of EALA activities means that the EAC will be without a legislative and oversight organ, which would plant an idea in the minds of the citizens in the region that they don’t need the regional assembly.

Without EALA sitting, it means that there will be no organ to put pressure on partner states to assent to bills that they have been dragging their feet in giving a nod to.

They include the Civic Education for Integration Bill, 2015, Customs Management (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Co-operative Societies Bill 2015. The five partner states have assented to the One Stop Border Post Bill, 2013, Vehicle Load Control Bill 2013, Customs Management (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2013, and Supplementary Appropriation (No. 2) Bill, 2012.

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