EALA passes conflict management bill / One Bill withdrawn, while three reports adopted by House

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has today passed the EAC Conflict Management Bill 2011 that shall see the region establish a Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Mechanism (CPMR). The House also withdrew a Bill and passed three key reports in a busy day of activities.

The object of the Conflict Management Bill, 2011 is to establish a CPMR mechanism responsible for identification of potential sources of conflict and devising response options. It further seeks to ensure provision of pre-emptive measures to address conflict situations, develop capacity for mediation and negotiations to forestall and diffuse conflicts and propose modalities for intervention and stabilisation of conflict resolutions.

The Bill was introduced to the House by Hon Dr. Odette Nyiramilimo. During debate today, Hon Dr. Aman Kabourou said that it was time for the region to contain eventualities of conflicts which arise through a legal framework. Contributing to the debate on behalf of the Council of Ministers, Kenya’s Assistant Minister for EAC, Hon Peter Munya however noted that though the Council was receptive of the law, its timing was mis-placed given other on-going initiatives in the region.

Hon Munya noted that the negotiations of the Protocol on Peace and Security were complete and that the Protocol was at the stage of been assented to. According to the Minister, the Protocol had taken into consideration all aspects as envisaged in the Bill and noted that the Council would not support the Bill at this point but at a later date.

The Bill was informed by the Report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution which analysed the Bill and noted gaps for improvement. The Committee further reviewed a number of pieces of literature including the report on the EALA Goodwill Mission to Kenya, 2008, the draft Protocol on Peace and Security, the EAC Early Warning Mechanism and other relevant documents.

The Bill draws its inspiration from a Causes Conference held in Bujumbura, Burundi on October 2008 which drew participants from all EAC Partner States, National Assemblies, Ministries of EAC, defence and internal affairs, as well as Civil Society Organisations.

A second Bill, the East African Community Sectional Properties Bill, 2012 was however withdrawn on the floor of the House. Presenting the motion for withdrawal, Hon Dr. James Ndahiro said that the Bill needed more time for consultations in order to harmonise EALA’s position with the Council of Ministers.

Two reports, the Report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution on Public Hearings in pastoral Border Communities of Northern Kenya and Eastern Uganda and another report of the Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and natural resources on the Tour of Lake Jipe Aquatic Trans-boundary Ecosystem were laid on the table.

The Report of the General Purpose Committee (GPC) on the Spot- Assessment in Partner States on the policy framework and facilitation of CSOs activities for women, youth, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the elderly and other special groups was also adopted.

The report indicates that while there are laws on PWDs in the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda, the operationalisation of the said laws had not been fully realised while stigmatisation issues continue to be prevalent in the region. Burundi on its part has not ratified the 2007 International Convention on PWDs. On HIV and AIDS, the Report notes that cultural practices like early marriages and female genital mutilation affects youth and specifically, girls.

Contributing to the debate, Hon Dr. James Ndahiro lamented that while vulnerability was temporary in most Partner States, the social vulnerable groups that account for 65% of the populace in the region remained the least funded.

A second report by the GPC on EAC Regional Inter-Parliamentary Forum field visit of various regional and national HIV and AIDS interventions and responses in the Republic of Kenya was presented, debated and adopted. In his submissions, Hon Dr. Said Bilal noted that HIV and AIDS mitigation strategies needed to be strengthened through political will as well as by scaling- up of the regional and national responses.

The report followed an on-spot assessment carried out by EALA, Partner States’ national Parliamentary departmental Committees on Health, Social Services and HIV and AIDS in Kenya from March 13-15, 2012. Site visits included a number of hospitals, universities and medical institutions. The report recommends that formation of EAC Health Research Commission be fast-tracked and urgently financed.

At the same time, the Assembly is calling for integrated national policies in the Partner States to cover the entire health sector ranging from prevention, care, treatment and research which should be harmonised and integrated at a regional level. The report further urges the Assembly to urgently enact legislation to allow for, strengthen and enhance collaboration in education, science and technology fields.

The Report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution on Public hearings in pastoral Border communities of Northern Kenya and Eastern Uganda also sailed through the floor of the House.

The Report presented by Hon Abdulkarim Harelimana stated the complex patterns of conflict in the Kapenguria, Kacheliba and Nakapiripirit pastoral border communities and the possible remedies. Consequently, Hon Harelimana noted that the areas visited were lagging behind in development and have not reaped on benefits that other communities have capitalised on in the post-independence era.

The Report recommends that Partner States’ governments adopt affirmative action to ensure that development projects are initiated to improve pastoralists’ communities’ livelihoods. At the same time, there is need for the change of mindset of pastoralists through sensitisation on the value of education in the modern world, enforcement of universal free education and improvement of polytechnics and enhancing non-formal education.

Hon Christophe Bazivamo called for affirmative action and called for the bi-annual reporting on the progress of the region in the House. Hon Augustine Lotodo said the issues in the Report needed urgent addressing, adding that the region had unexploited potential which needed to be harnessed.

The Report on the Lake Jipe Acquatic Transboundary Ecosystem presented by Hon Augustine Lotodo narrates that a big part of the Lake on the Tanzanian side is covered by unwanted vegetation which stakeholders say, is hampering fishing activities and subsequently, affecting livelihood support initiatives. On the Kenyan side, the Committee did observe some farming and livestock along the riverbanks and sometimes flowing into the river, which it noted led to soil erosion.

During debate, Hon Dr. George Nangale called for the harmonisation of laws that revolve on acquatic eco-systems while Hon Otieno Karan urged the Partner States to contain any future conflicts in the region by reaching out to the communities to protect the ecosystems. The Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania were urged to join all efforts towards addressing the issues of the Lake, however temporary they may be.

The Assembly continues its session tomorrow.

Source: East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) – Press Release – 30 May 2012