East African Court of Justice Arusha, 9May 2014: The First Instance Division in its interim ordered EALA to maintain status quo of the Speaker and restrained it from deliberating on the matter of the removal of the Speaker pending the delivery of its ruling on 29th May 2014. The order was made after hearing of applications filed by Hon. Margareth Nantongo Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and Mbidde Foundation Limited (Applicants) versus the Secretary General of the East African Community and the Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda (Respondents)
The Applicants are seeking an interim injunction from Court against the Secretary General and the Republic of Uganda directing EALA to refrain from referring the motions for resolution to remove the speaker of EALA to the allegedly improperly constituted Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges. The applicants also seek an order against the EALA Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges to refrain from conducting any investigation in this matter pending the hearing and determination of the main case.
The Court ordered that the Applications be consolidated and be heard together because they were related matters.
The Applicants represented by Fred Mukasa Mbidde and Jet Mwebaze advocates submitted that the Respondents failure to seek an Advisory opinion from this Court on the impugned Rules of EALA related to the procedure of the Speaker’s removal and the continuous operation of EALA without proper rules in place is an infringement of Article 6(d) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community on good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law among others.
Mr. Mbidde further submitted that EALA should be stopped from proceeding with the impeachment process using informal Rules of procedure and that there are no grounds for the censure of the Speaker. He argued that although there must be investigations conducted to reach the clear decision, there are no rules to guide the Legal, Rules and Privilege Committee in carrying out the investigations.
The Applicants also said that if the interim order is not granted they will suffer irreparable damages which will not be compensated. They also added that the political career of the Speaker and the smooth running of EALA will be affected and submitted that there is a prima facie case to be determined by the Court and asked Court to grant the orders sought with costs.
Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa Counsel to the Community and Agaba Stephen Principal Legal Officer representing the 1st Respondent submitted that the Applicants were submitting on the main case which the Court has not reached yet. He also said that the Applicants claims that EALA has no rules to guide the Assembly are mere hypothsis because the Assembly has been operating on the existing rules. He added that the Members of EALA could not be sworn in without Rules; the Speaker could not assume office and be sworn in without Rules of the Assembly.
Hon. Kaahwa also submitted that the impeachment of the Speaker should only be handled in the parliament and nowhere else. He continued that Rule 9 of the EALA Rules of Procedures provides the guidelines on the removal of the Speaker and that Article 36 of the EAC Treaty clearly sets out that it’s only the Summit, Council of Ministers and the Partner States who may seek an advisory opinion from the Court when there is need.
He also said that Applicants must satisfy the Court that they will suffer irreparable damages for the court to grant them an injunction. Hon. Kaahwa also added that the adjournment of the Assembly on 1st April 2014 was not proper because it put the Assembly at a standstill and that there was no notice to the commissioner of the Assembly as required by the Rules of Procedures.
Ms. Christine Kaahwa for the 2nd Respondent Attorney General of Uganda associated herself with the 1st Respondents submissions and added that both the Application and the Main case pending determination in Court are premature because the Applicants should wait for the process to start and only come to Court if the Rules were not properly followed.
The Respondents therefore asked Court to dismiss the Application with costs.
The Court will deliver its ruling on 29th May, 2014 but ordered in the interim that the status quo be maintained and it restrained EALA from deliberating on the issue of the removal of the Speaker pending delivery of its ruling on 29th May 2014.
The Applicant Rt. Hon. Margareth Nantongo Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) was present in Court.
The matter came before Hon. Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, Principal Judge, Justice Isaac Lenaola Deputy Principal Judge and Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi
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The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or the Court), is the judicial arm of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.
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