THURSDAY December 22, 2021
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter
The East African Business Council (EABC) has commended the new bearer of the East African Legislative Assembly Speaker’s Office, Mr Joseph Ntakarutimana, saying the House is poised to have a bright future ahead.
Mr Ntakarutimana was elected on Tuesday December 20, 2022, to navigate the fifth regional law-making organ for the next five years.
The EABC Chairperson, Ms Angelina Ngalula, is optimistic the peace and harmony witnessed during his election augurs well for the health of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
“As I wish him well in his new duties, I cordially welcome him and express my willingness to work with him for wider interests of East Africans,” she says in an interview with The Tranquility News shortly after Mr Ntakarutimana was sworn in.
Mr Joseph Ntakarutimana, a seasoned Burundi politician cum diplomat, garnered 85.7 per cent of the 63 votes cast during the first sitting of the 5th EALA Assembly in Arusha, Tanzania.
Of the 63 total votes, eight were spoilt and one voted against him. Mr Ntakarutimana needed barely two third majority votes to win the election, equivalent to 42 votes.
Mr Ntakirutimana joined Burundi Parliament in 1993 and had served as a senator and a member of parliament for the last 30 years. He is not new to the EAC seat he regularly visited as a refugee during Burundi peace talks, he says.
He replaces Mr Martin Ngoga, a Rwanda national and Speaker of the 4th EALA Assembly, whose tenure elapsed on December 17, 2022. Mr Ngoga took over the EALA Speaker’s Office in 2017.
Regional lawmakers from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan were eligible for vying for the EALA Speaker’s Office which rotates among the East African Community (EAC) partner states.
Mr Ntakarutimana sailed through the post unopposed following three candidates from South Sudan, namely Mr Gai Deng, Mr Gideon Gatpan and Dr Anne Itto, withdrawing from the race, one at the eleventh hour.
Dr Itto says they had to pull out of the race to pave way for Burundi, which joined the bloc before South Sudan did, believing the move will cement harmony, unity and teamwork. “No doubt Burundi will support South Sudan in 2027,” she says.
Mr Ntakarutimana quips when the Assembly Clerk, Mr Alex Obatre, gave him a few minutes to confirm his candidature: “I feel like I was a nine-month pregnant and have just delivered,” adding:
“We should be one family, kicking harmony and unity; never kicking hatred or division. I will capitalise on your trust to me.”
Indeed, Mr Ntakarutimana was overwhelmingly elected during what was seen as free and fair polls conducted transparently in line with provisions of the EAC Treaty.
“Despite coming from various backgrounds, let’s be one people,” the EALA Speaker pleaded with new members of the regional House from all seven EAC partner state, namely Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The legal arm of the community is tasked to pass laws regulating the bloc, monitor government activities and to advocate for various issues threatening East Africans.
The regional House debates and recommends on the EAC Budget needs and how it should be used, and monitors various reports on activities of the bloc and provides oversight for the communityΩ