The 2nd meeting of the 2nd Session of the 5th East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has opened in Kigali with the Democratic Republic of Congo opting to participate virtually.
The legislative meeting which started the pre-plenary activities from November 23 will run through December 27, 2023, attracting 60 MPs in person, except the DRC chapter.
“They (DRC) have no reason for not attending (in-person) but we agreed we will work with them virtually, ” EALA Speaker MP Joseph Ntakirutimana said during a press briefing in Kigali on November 27, 2023.
The Speaker explained “The Assembly rules provide that chapter members can participate virtually and the reason why they chose that is something being handled by the speaker in an administrative manner.”
Last year, DRC lawmakers were conspicuously absent at an EALA induction retreat in Kigali, with no reasons given.
On the Rwanda-DRC crisis, EALA said that they are waiting for a solution and wish a peaceful solution happens faster to allow both member states to live in harmony.
“Our core mandate doesn’t allow us to indulge in political matters but we are not happy to see war, conflict and refugees in the region. The problem between Rwanda and DRC is being discussed at a political level and what we anticipate is to see harmony restored,” Ntakirutimana said.
Rwanda’s EALA Chapter lead, MP Fatuma Nyirakobwa Ndangiza said that the Nairobi peace process is handling the matter at hand and the issue will be resolved in time.
“We think that DRC crisis will be solved at the political level and our role is to do an oversight and remind the leaders through our reports from the committee on regional affairs,” Ndangiza said.
In the meantime, the EALA meeting in Kigali will go on as normal and set to discuss three major bills.
These include the EAC Creative and Cultural bill which seeks to promote the industry and its council; EAC Pharmaceutical bill to promote management of health delivery systems; and the EAC Livestock bill to provide a model of managing trans-boundary movement livestock and disease in the region.
Following the participation of EALA members in the monthly Umuganda last weekend, the MPs will also take the opportunity to visit some activities in various sectors especially conservation and environment protection.
The Assembly will also hold an EALA Women caucus which will also meet to discuss a 5-year strategy to empower women, and the MPs will also engage in competitive sporting games and activities.