EAC mulls regional electoral body

January 24, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – The East African Legislative Assembly is mulling the idea of establishing a single electoral commission for the region.

Speaker Abdirahin Abdi told a press conference in Nairobi on Monday that the envisaged Independent Regional Electoral Commission will unite member states and ensure credibility and independence in elections.

Mr Abdi said a Private Members Bill to legislate the commission will go through the second and third reading this week when the regional Parliament holds a special sitting in Nairobi.

"We are looking at an independent body that will run and monitor elections," he said adding that this would ensure transparency and accountability.

Should the Bill go through, member states will not have electoral commissions in member states but "we will have one commission with commissioners from the member States who will be running the elections in these states."

"What we are looking at is having an electoral commission that will be East African," he said.

The Bill is meant to cure the problems of political interference of local electoral bodies which has compromised the integrity of elections. Running of elections in the region has been contested by opposition parties who have accused incumbent presidents of tilting the votes.

"We want to take care of these concerns," said Mr Abdi.

The legislators will be holding the third meeting of the fourth session of the second assembly in Nairobi starting Tuesday to Friday February 4.

President Mwai Kibaki is scheduled to open the session on Wednesday. Besides the Elections Bill, the House will also debate the EAC Service Commission Bill, the Lake Victoria Basin Commission Bill and various committee reports.

Established 10 years ago, the EALA is the legislative arm of the East African Community. Its laws are signed into law by the Summit of Presidents after which they become law. The community last year created the Common Market Protocol to open up its boundaries to trade although its implementation is facing teething delays.

The region is working towards establishing a Common Monetary Union by 2012.

The regional legislators are appealing to member states to hasten the amendment of various national legislations to align them with the Common Market Protocol. Mr Abdi regretted that although member states promised to review their laws to conform to the protocol, none of the five states have done so.

"Yes, people say it is a process of five years when we will have a proper market but East Africans are supposed to be enjoying some rights from July 1 last year," he said.

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