President Nkurunziza opens EALA sitting in Bujumbura / Calls for removal of NTBs and close co-operation between EAC Organs and national institutions

By East African Community (EAC)

BUJUMBURA, Burundi, November 17, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Chairperson of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State, President Pierre Nkurunziza today opened the Second Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Second East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) at the Congress Palace, Kigobe in Bujumbura, Burundi.

In his speech, President Nkurunziza hailed the strides made by EALA over the last ten years and the important contribution of the Assembly in the integration process. He however called for enhanced collaboration and co-operation between the institutions of the EAC and those of the Partner States.

“In the case of EALA, this could be achieved through greater collaboration and greater affinity with the national Parliaments. This way, the Community will be brought closer to the people, who in turn would make a direct contribution through their elected representatives”, President Nkurunziza said.

President Nkurunziza reiterated the need for speedy establishment of a single Customs Authority as a means towards eliminating the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs). The President lamented that NTBs continued to hamper the environment and costs of doing business as well as an impediment to the Customs Union and Common Market Protocols.

“This is the kind of question that EALA may try to tackle in terms of monitoring”, President Nkurunziza said.

The President further called for the speedy implementation of Council decisions at the EAC and the implementation of the Protocols and commitments agreed on by Partner States if the benefits of regional integration were to be felt.

“It is imperative, therefore, that this Assembly and the Council of Ministers collaborate more on mechanisms to initiate laws to enforce the expeditious implementation of the Customs Union and the Common Market Protocol so that East African citizens can reap benefits accruing from them” President Nkurunziza said.

The President congratulated the Assembly for holding the Plenary in Bujumbura as it marks its ten years of existence adding that the principle of rotating the EALA Sittings was useful as it enabled the citizens of the region to follow the proceedings.

The Head of State further called for all inclusiveness and citizen participation to foster their active participation in the regional integration process adding that, in so doing, ordinary East Africans would have a voice and EAC Organs their rightful relevance.

In his welcome remarks, the Speaker of EALA, Rt. Hon. Abdirahin Abdi hailed President Nkurunziza and the citizens of the Republic of Burundi for exuding the East African spirit and for their steadfast contribution to the realization of the objectives of the Community.

“It is during your tenure Your Excellency that the EAC has started a phase where Heads of EAC Organs and Institutions have had time to directly interact with the Summit to discuss pertinent matters on how to consolidate the integration process”, Hon Abdi said.

The EALA Speaker noted that EALA would in addition to the formal business of the House host the 6th Inter-parliamentary Relations Seminar (Nanyuki VI) themed: “The Role of the Legislature in Achieving a Political Federation”. This time around, we also have special guests from ECOWAS, SADC, IGAD and the Pan African Parliament, Rt. Hon Abdi added.

“On the sidelines, the Inter-Parliamentary Football Tournament 2011 between Parliaments of Partner States will also take place. We know your Excellency as a lover of football, you will try to find time to grace the occasion” the Speaker remarked.

In her vote of thanks, EALA Member, Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, hailed President Nkurunziza and the Government for espousing great policies of development in Burundi. “We note the progressive achievements under the able leadership of the President. Today child delivery in hospitals is free including that of medical care of children under age five”, Hon Nyiramilimo said. She hailed the Republic of Burundi for its commitment to the integration process.

Over the next two weeks, EALA shall debate the following Bills:

• The IUCEA (Amendment Bill) - 2nd & 3rd Reading

• The EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill - 2nd & 3rd Reading

Various motions, reports as well as resolutions deepening and widening the integration agenda are also to be moved and adopted at the two week plenary.