Rwanda is not taking part in the 10-day 9th EAC Inter-Parliamentary Games Tournament which kicked off on Dec 1 in Burundi’s Capital, Bujumbura.
EALA Senior Public Relations Officer, Bobi Odiko told ChimpReports on Sunday that Rwanda is not participating in the games.
“Rwanda is not in Burundi,” said Odiko.
“They sent official apologies since they have their Parliamentary session on-going,” he added.
Reminded that other EAC member states’ Parliaments are equally busy, Odiko responded: “Yes. You may need to look for Parliament of Rwanda Spokesperson for a good answer.”
As of Sunday morning we were unable to reach the spokesperson of Rwanda’s Parliament.
However, this development comes hardly a week after Burundi refused to attend the East African Community meetings in Arusha that would have seen Rwanda President Paul Kagame take over as chairman of the EAC from Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni.
Bujumbura wondered how Rwanda would manage to resolve outstanding security issues in the region when its reportedly providing a sanctuary to Burundian dissidents.
Kigali has since expressed commitment to repatriate the Burundian dissidents and refugees through proper EAC mechanisms.
The Games themed: “Accelerating a people-centered EAC by connecting Parliamentarians and citizens through Sports” have brought together EALA and the National Legislatures.
The countries participating in the games include Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Kenya and Burundi.
The EALA Speaker Martin Ngoga, a Rwandan, is not attending the tournament too. He sent a representative.
Opening the tournament in Bujumbura yesterday, Speaker of Burundi Parliament, Pascal Nyabenda said President Pierre Nkurunziza would not seek another term in office in the next elections.
“We request all East Africans to help Burundi in organising free and fair elections,” said Nyabenda.
“It is in this context of peace that Burundians revised the Constitution. This constitutions favours peace and national unity. It harmonises some provisions with that of the EAC,” he said.
The tournament is taking place at the Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium and other venues in the City.
The games were preceded by a half-day Pre-Tournament Conference on December 1, 2018, to nurture networking and bonding among the legislators.
The tournament disciplines include football, walk-race, netball, golf, athletics, tug-of-war and volleyball.
Athletics are taking place at the Stade Olympique (in Nyabugete) feature races in 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 metres, 800 and 1500 metres respectively for men and women.
The 4x 400m relay and the 4x 100m races are also on the cards.
In football, defending champions, Parliament of Uganda will face stiff competition from the other Parliaments keen to dethrone them.
Last December (2017), Parliament of Uganda won the title despite losing the last match (0-3) to an entire staff-side of the EALA.
In men’s Volleyball, Parliament of Kenya who are the champs will have to put up a good fight with all Parliaments –going out guns blazing for the title.
In women’s volleyball, all Parliaments are expected give themselves a good outing in a bid to dethrone, Parliament of Kenya. All games are expected to use the league format of play.
In athletics, Parliament of Uganda and Parliament of Kenya are the favourites in both male and female categories while Parliament of Tanzania, reigning champions in Tug-of-War, have similarly, promised fireworks.
The EAC Inter-Parliamentary Games is seen as a key aspect building on relations between the EALA and the National Parliaments in the EAC region.
The Games are held annually and on a rotational mode in the Partner States. Article 119 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community obliges the Partner States to promote close co-operation amongst themselves in culture and sports, with respect to the promotion and enhancement of diverse sports activities among other areas.