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Rejoinder to an article published in this week's East African newspaper & last week's monitor newspaper on the Inter-University Council for East Africa (amendment) bill 2010

By East African Community (EAC)
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ARUSHA, Tanzania, December 8, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Our attention is drawn to an article carried out in this week's edition of the East African Newspaper (Dec 5-11, 2011) titled: EALA throws out Regional Accreditation Bill. The article states at its outset that the move by EALA to reject the Inter-University Council for East Africa (Amendment) Bill 2010 that seeks to create a regional body to accredit universities in the region potentially frustrates plans to harmonise learning.

A similar article was published in the sister paper, the Monitor dated Wednesday, November 23 2011 and titled: EALA ministers reject move to open up education services.

Both articles in their present form are in-accurate and neither depict nor reflect the correct position of what transpired during the Plenary session of EALA held in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The correct position of the matter is that the Council of Ministers through Hon. Musa Sirma (now Chairperson of the Council of Ministers) moved for an adjournment of the debate on the Bill requesting for more time in order to consult with a view to having more comprehensive input on the Bill. The move arises from the fact that the all important Bill was initiated and introduced before the Assembly as a Private Member's Bill. Such requests for adjournment constitute normal practice and are provided for in the Rules of Procedures of the Assembly. An adjournment does not mean a Bill is rejected.

As a matter of fact, the Council of Ministers requested that the matter comes up again during the next plenary session (3rd Meeting of the 5th Session of the Second Assembly) scheduled for Kampala, Uganda on 22nd January 2012 to 3rd February 2012.

In the said articles, both Newspapers indicate that representatives of EALA mentioned in their deliberations that the Bill if passed would create a parallel system of accreditation since each Partner State has an accreditation body charged with such responsibility. While Members are entitled to their views on the floor of the House, an impression has been created that EALA rejected the Bill as a result of the contributions of the Members.

We wish to indicate that contributions on the floor of the House from Members of EALA do not necessarily reflect the official position of EALA. Instead, it is procedural for Members in the House to argue for and/ or against any Bill during debate. The Assembly's position on any given Bill, Motion or Resolution can only be arrived at by way of vote (to pass or reject) when the Question is put forth or when the Speaker makes a ruling on the matter. In this given instance, the Speaker only ruled in favour of adjournment and not on the Bill per se.

EALA wishes to re-state that the Bill has not been rejected and remains on course. It is EALA's business and in its best interest to enact progressive legislation that contribute to the strengthening of the regional integration process.

We wish to request you through the pages of your esteemed publications to correct the anomaly.