Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Abdirahin Abdi has called for the establishment of a fully fledged independent African parliament.
“The entire East African Community (EAC) fraternity fully supports the efforts towards the development of a fully – fledged continental parliament that has greater autonomy and legislative leverage,” he said at the opening of the sixth ordinary session of the second Pan African Parliament (PAP) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week.
“Establishment of a fully fledged African Parliament would see acts and decisions of the African Union backed by the full force of laws enacted by the Parliament,” he added.
All EAC states are members of PAP. Abdi said that the unmistakable desire of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is to see that the Pan African Parliament’s transition from an advisory body to a fully representative Legislative Assembly is accomplished within the next few years, and that this noble quest should be embraced by all.
“We are convinced that the strengthening of the PAP will ensure full and effective participation of our African Peoples in the determination of their own destiny,” he said adding that what the PAP is seeking for is an already tested way of doing things at the EAC where EALA is the legislative organ and it has proved to work and works well. He pointed out that other than the European Parliament; EALA is the only other regional parliament with full legislative autonomy.
“We have used this to enact nearly 60 pieces of legislation both in the first and the second Assembly,” he said. He explained that the set of laws EALA passes take precedence over similar national ones on matters of the Community.
“We also carry out a representative and oversight functions including the budgetary function,” he added.
“I therefore urge member states or their representatives to borrow a leaf from the EAC to empower the PAP and other AU bodies, especially its organs, it is even much easier for the PAP because its Constitutive Act, the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community and all other internal working documents of the AU point to the need to review the structure of the PAP with a view to empowering it,” he noted.
He said that EALA supports some of the salient features in the proposed protocol that include the desire to have members elected from outside Parliaments of member states since it gives credence to them to operate without any limitation, and this will spur them to concentrate on the lager interests of the African Peoples.
He said EALA also supports fixing the term of parliament and the term of members to a particular parliamentary term which is consistent with parliamentary tradition and democracy the world over as it offers greater historical underpinnings and importance.
The assembly als supports continuous engagement with national and regional parliaments which is consistent with the desire to complement one another.
“This will help galvanise our efforts of helping the people we represent,” he said adding that as long as we remain United, full integration is possible.