Hon Martin Ngoga has been elected Speaker of East Africa Legislative Assembly following unsuccessful political maneuvering by Tanzania and Burundi.
Ngoga polled 33 votes in the second round of voting against Hon Leontine Nzeyimana of Burundi who obtained only 3 votes.
Hon Adam Kimbisa of Tanzania did not receive any votes.
The voting pattern exposed the feelings of Tanzania and Burundi towards Rwanda.
The polls had been planned for Monday only to be boycotted by Tanzanian and Burundi which refused to attend the session.
Burundi believes Rwanda has previously supported rebels to oust President Pierre Nkurunziza.
On the other hand, Dar es Salaam retains stronger ties with Bujumbura as former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere played key roles in ending a costly civil war in Burundi.
In short, Tanzania is the guardian of Burundi’s peace and stability.
Security forces from both countries recently conducted an operation that led to the arrest of Burundi’s main rebel leaders.
This tension played out in the EALA assembly on Monday.
The outgoing Speaker from Uganda Daniel Fred Kidega chose to adjourn the plenary session to Tuesday, saying he needed to make some consultations.
It will be recalled the position of Speaker is held on rotation basis whereby Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda had already served in this post.
In a dramatic turn of events, Tanzania and Burundi decided to front Adam Kisimba and Leontine Nzeyimana respectively.
This angered lawmakers from other countries including Uganda to mobilise for Ngoga leading to his victory.
Officials said Uganda’s decision to support Ngoga “demonstrates Uganda’s consistent formidable and friendly foreign policy towards her sister country Rwanda.”
The election which took place at the EALA Chambers was presided over by the Clerk to the Assembly, Mr Kenneth Madete.
In the first round of voting, Hon Ngoga got 35 votes while only one vote was cast in favour of Hon Nzeyimana who was absent.
In accordance with the Rules of Procedure, a second round of voting was called since no candidate had amassed the requisite two-thirds of the votes cast (36 out of 54).
The fourth Assembly comprises of 54 lawmakers – with nine from each of the six Partner States.
The Rules of Procedure state that a candidate for Speaker should get a two-thirds majority to be a clear winner.
In absence of the same, a further ballot (second round) shall be held.
A candidate who receives the highest number of votes shall then be declared the winner.
In the second round, Rt Hon Ngoga managed 33 votes to be declared the winner.
The new Speaker immediately took a reconciliatory tone and rallied for unity and teamwork.
Hand of friendship
“I salute my worthy competitors in the race and ask that we work together for the benefit of EALA and the region. I wish to extend my arm of collaboration and co-operation”, Hon Ngoga said.
The Speaker pledged to work tirelessly to ensure the Assembly realizes its mandate.
“I can only assure you Hon Members that I will provide the leadership you deserve in order to perform our statutory functions with which we are tasked to take our integration process to another level”, he added.
“I will spare no efforts to provide the leadership you need to maintain high moral standing for us to confidently exercise oversight to other Institutions of the Community”, he added.
The occasion was attended by the President of the Senate of Rwanda, Rt Hon Bernard Makuza, Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan, Hon Anthony Makana and several Members of Parliament and Senators from Kenya.
Prior to his election, Ngoga served in the 3rd Assembly. He was previously Prosecutor General Rwanda.
In May this year, Ngoga added another feather to the cap when he was elected and confirmed by the congress of the global football body as deputy Chairman of the FIFA Ethics Committee in charge of investigatory chamber for a four-year term.
The independent Ethics Committee is one of FIFA’s judicial bodies primarily responsible for investigating possible infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
EALA is an Organ of the East African Community established in 2001 with a mandate of legislation, representation and oversight. Hon Ngoga takes over from Hon Daniel F. Kidega whose tenure ended on June 4, 2017.