East African Court of Justice Arusha, 28 May 2014:The First Instance Division today declined to grant interim injunctions sought in the Applications filed by Hon. Margareth Nantongo Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and Mbidde Foundation Limited (Applicants) against the Secretary General of the East African Community and the Attorney General of the Republic of Uganda (Respondents) 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 sought 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 and hence Application was dismissed.
The Court in its ruling said that at this stage the presentation of the petition before the EALA Assembly was in compliance with the Treaty as prescribed under Rule 9 (4) of the Assembly’s Rules of procedure which states that; “The motion will be tabled in the Assembly within seven days of its receipt by the Clerk and the House shall refer the motion to the committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges to investigate and report its findings to the Assembly for debate”. Court added that no material was valid to the Court as would suggest that the Rules on procedure of the impeachment of the EALA Speaker was in infringement of the Treaty for the establishment of the East African Community as alleged by the Applicant.
Court further added that the removal of the Speaker of the Assembly is the function of EALA as provided by Article 53 of the Treaty and the procedure of that is clearly detailed in the Rules of the Assembly. Also said that Article 49 (2) (g) of the Treaty gives mandate the Assembly to formulate its own rules of procedure as well as those that pertain to its committees of which the committee on legal, rules and privileges is one EALA committee.
In addition the Court found that there is no prima facie case demonstrating an act of the Treaty infringement of Article 30(1) and that it was satisfied that the Applicant’s demonstration the injury is likely to suffer because it does not provide material that demonstrate the injury. The Court therefore said that if the injunction is granted the Secretary General will suffer inconvenience with more far reaching repercussions to the entire Community.
The Court also found that the Secretary General does not have the mandate to seek advisory opinion on the procedure of the removal of the Speaker and even the entities mandated to seek the same are not obliged to do so and therefore the Republic of Uganda (2nd Respondent) did not find the need to seek the advisory opinion.
Again the Court disagreed with the interpretation of the Mukasa Mbidde on Rule 88 of the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure states that “The first sitting of the Assembly elected under the Treaty shall be for purposes of adopting the Assembly Rules of Procedure “arguing that each Assembly was required to adopt the said Rules. The Court agreed with Mr. Kaahwa’s argument such interpretation goes to the root of EALA’s existence and therefore the ground doesn’t demonstrate a serious triable issue. The Court therefore said that the bias on the Rules of EALA on removal of the Speaker has not been established until the main case is heard for the Court to have more detailed evidence and arguments by the parties.
The however said that on 20th June 2014, the parties in the matter will appear in Court for the scheduling conference of the main Reference.
Parties appearing in Court to receive the Judgement were Hon. Fred Mukasa Mbidde and his Lawyer Mr.Justin Semuyaba, Mr. Jet Mwebaze Advocate for the Speaker EALA, (Applicants), Hon. Wilbert Kaahwa Counsel to the Community and Agaba Stephen Principal Legal Officer representing the (1st Respondent) EAC Secretary General and Ms. Christine Kaahwa, Mr. Oburu Odoi Jimmy Principal State Attoney and Mr. Geoffrey Wangolo Madete State Attorney for the 2nd Respondent Attorney General of Uganda were all present in Court .
The Applicant Rt. Hon. Margareth Nantongo Zziwa, Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and several Members of EALA were also present in Court. The ruling was delivered by Hon. Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, Principal Judge, Justice Isaac Lenaola Deputy Principal Judge and Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi
The Court had in the interim on May 9, 2014 after hearing the consolidated Applications 5 of 2014 and 10 of 2014, ordered EALA not to proceed with the proceedings for the removal of the Speaker from office pending the Court’s ruling on the two applications.
When the House commenced on Tuesday, May 25th, 2014, EALA Member, Hon Peter Mathuki stood up on a point of procedure to seek clarification from the Counsel to the Community as to whether EALA had Rules of Procedure governing it.
He further sought clarification and advice from the EAC Counsel as to whether the House had been properly adjourned by the Speaker and if not, the recourse deemed proper.
EALA Member Hon Dr.`Nderakindo Kessy on her part sought interpretation given the adjournment (sine die) on April 3rd, 2014 seeking to be guided on the term ‘status quo’ in context of the matter before hand (Removal of the Speaker).
In his response, the CTC, Hon Wilbert Kaahwa was categorical that pursuant to Article 39 of the Treaty the conservatory order needed to be complied with when the business of the House resumed.
He affirmed that the EALA was governed by Rules of Procedure and that it was in order for the House to continue with its business, unless otherwise determined by the Ruling on May 29th, 2014.
The EACJ delivered the Order dated May 9th, 2014 and signed by Honorable Mr. Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, Principal Judge of the EACJ, Honorable Mr. Justice Isaac Lenaola, Deputy Principal Judge and Honorable Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi.
The Court ordered that in the interim, the status quo be maintained restraining the EALA from deliberating the matter of the removal of the Speaker of EALA pending the delivery of the ruling on May 29th, 2014. The Court however, did not bar the Assembly from undertaking and discharging other responsibilities.
Additional reporting by Bobi Odiko, Senior Public Relations Officer; East African Legislative Assembly; Tel: +255-27-2162122 Cell: +255 787 870945, +254-733-718036; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: http://www.eala.org Arusha, Tanzania
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