National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang'ula has called for direct election of East Africa Legislative Assembly (Eala) legislators by voters from the respective member states.
Speaking during the East African Speakers Bureau Conference in Juba, South Sudan, Wetang'ula said that the Eala MPs ought to be elected through direct universal suffrage by citizens of the EAC member states as opposed to their appointment by either the Executive, Electoral College or Parliament.
The Speaker told the conference that involving the voters in each of the seven member states will create understanding among citizens on the regional block operations as the candidates traverse their respective countries in search of votes.
“In the spirit of integration of East African Community it is high time the member states change the mode of electing Members of Parliament to the regional block so that the citizens can be involved directly and also to attract serious and popular candidates,” he said.
He argued that involving the EAC citizens will ensure that those who are elected to Eala are well-known in their respective countries and understand their roles in the regional assembly unlike the current situation.
Wetang'ula emphasized the importance of the Speakers Bureau regular meetings, saying they provide a platform to discuss respective Parliaments functions in spurring regional development and integration.
The Speaker termed the push for regional integration a noble goal and the critical role played by the Speakers' Bureau in fostering the same to ensure policies formulated by the Executive are enacted into law.
"As Speakers of our respective Parliaments in our seven member states our fundamental responsibility is to ensure all policies formulated by the Executive are enacted into law for the progress of the region," said Wetang'ula.
During the meeting, the outgoing East African Speakers Bureau Chairperson Jemma Kumba who is Speaker of the South Sudan Parliament, handed over the mantle to the Speaker of Tanzanian Parliament Tulia Ackson.
Wetang'ula commended Kumba for her exemplary leadership for the one year she has been at the Bureau's helm and assured Ackson of Kenya's support as she takes over the Bureau's leadership.
The Clerks of the Regional National Assemblies held their annual meeting at the same venue early last week setting the stage for the Speakers' Conference during the 17th meeting of Clerks of the National Legislatures of East African Community member states and Eala.
The Clerks meeting was chaired by Micheal Kadebe, who represented the Clerk of the Tanzanian National Assembly where they prepared the working documents and agenda for the Bureau of Speakers' meeting.
During the meeting, the Kenyan National Assembly Deputy Clerk Jeremiah Ndombi represented Clerk Samuel Njoroge while Senate Clerk Jeremiah Nyegenye was represented by Johnson Okello.
Among the key issues on the agenda of the Clerks' meeting was the preparatory arrangements of the annual Inter-Parliamentary games to be held in Rwanda in December.
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The meeting also discussed the consideration of the Draft Framework on collaboration between Eala and National Legislatures and the challenges facing the regional body.
"The East African Parliaments Clerks meeting was very resourceful in setting the agenda for the Speakers Bureau conference which was held successfully in Juba in South Sudan," said Ndombi.
The EAC Speakers' Bureau was established in 2008 with a mandate to set up a functional working relationship between the Speakers of the partner States.
The EAC member states are Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania.