Burundi attempt to unseat Eala Speaker fails again

Saturday June 6 2020

The East Africa Legislative Assembly.

The East Africa Legislative Assembly during a session in Nairobi, Kenya, on June 7, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By The EastAfrican

The court case against the election of the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Martin Ngoga, was concluded on Thursday, when the Appellate Division of the East Africa Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by the government of Burundi.

Burundi had challenged the decision of the First Instance Division of the court to uphold the election of Mr Ngoga citing irregularities.

The Appellate Division of the court dismissed the appeal with costs to the respondent, the East African Community Secretary General, and the intervener, Fred Mbidde, representing Burundi.

In a virtual session, the court said the appeal was contrary to Article 35 of the EAC Treaty on appeals which requires it to be based on matters of law and procedural errors.

Mr Ngoga, the incumbent Eala Speaker, from Rwanda, was elected to the five-year rotational post on December 2017.

The Burundi government then filed an application at the First Instance Division contending that there was no quorum during his election.

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Nestor Kayobera, the counsel representing the Burundi government, insisted that quorum was a Treaty obligation under Article 57 and rule 12(1) of the Eala Rules of Procedure.

Mr Kayobera said violation of the rule on quorum entailed violation of the Treaty, as the Eala Speaker was elected without assembly representatives from Burundi and Tanzania.

The First Instance Division of the court, however, dismissed the case saying the Burundi government had not proved the lack of quorum. Justice Monica Mugenyi, the Principal Judge, faulted Burundi for not furnishing the court with House attendance and other records of the disputed election.

The Burundi government was dissatisfied by the court decision, prompting it to file the appeal, arguing that the First Instance Division erred in law, in not finding contravention of Articles 53(1) or 57(1) of the Treaty or Rule 12(1) of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure in the election of the Speaker.

The government further claimed that the court had erred by striking out the affidavits sworn by its counsel and by not invoking Rule 1(2) of the Court’s Rules of Procedure to order production of evidence from the Respondent and the intervener on the fact of quorum during the election.

Burundi had asked the Appellate Division to order that the Eala Speaker was elected without the elected members from Burundi and Tanzania in violation of the provisions of the treaty and the Assembly Rules of Procedure.

The Burundi government also asked the court to order re-election of the Speaker in accordance with the treaty and the Assembly Rules of Procedure.

It further asked the court to order the Speaker to reimburse to the EAC Secretariat all salaries and emoluments he received from the alleged faulted election up to the full execution of the judgment of the Appellate Division.

Dr Anthony Kafumbe, representing the EAC Secretary General, prayed for dismissal of the appeal with costs against the Burundi government.

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