By Raymond Baguma
The East African Court of Justice has blocked the removal of Margaret Zziwa as Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly until May 29 when it will deliver a final verdict.
The First Instance Division of EACJ on Monday issued as interim order that EALA maintains the status quo and restrain from discussing the matter of Zziwa’s removal pending its ruling later this month.
The order was made after hearing of applications filed by Zziwa and EALA MP Mukasa Mbidde against the respondents who are the EAC Secretary General and Attorney General of Uganda.
The applicants are seeking an interim injunction from court against the EAC Secretary General and the Uganda directing EALA to refrain from referring the motions for resolution to remove the speaker.
The applicants also seek an order against the EALA Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges to refrain from conducting any investigation pending the hearing and determination of the main case.
The court ordered that the applications be consolidated and be heard together because they were related matters.
The Applicants represented by lawyers Mbidde and Jet Mwebaze submitted that the respondents failed to seek an advisory opinion from the regional court on the procedure of removing the Speaker.
Also, EALA continues to operate without proper rules in place which infringes on the treaty establishing the EAC on good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy and rule of law.
Mbidde further submitted that EALA should be stopped from proceeding with the impeachment process using informal rules of procedure and that there are no grounds for the censure of the Speaker.
He argued that although there must be investigations conducted to reach the clear decision, there are no rules to guide the EALA Legal, Rules and Privilege Committee in carrying out the investigations.
The applicants also said that if the interim order is not granted, they would suffer irreparable damages which would not be compensated.
They also added that the political career of the Speaker and the smooth running of EALA would be affected and submitted that there is a prima facie case to be determined by the court and asked EACJ to grant the orders sought with costs.
Wilbert Kaahwa the respondent’s counsel and Stephen Agaba, the principal legal officer representing the Secretary General submitted that the applicants were submitting on the main case which the court has not reached yet.
He also said that the applicants’ claims that EALA has no rules to guide EALA are mere hypothesis because the Assembly has been operating on the existing rules. He added that the Members of EALA could not be sworn in without Rules; the Speaker could not assume office and be sworn in without Rules of the Assembly.
Kaahwa also submitted that the impeachment of the Speaker should only be handled in the parliament and nowhere else.
Also, that Rule 9 of the EALA Rules of Procedures provides the guidelines on the removal of the Speaker and that Article 36 of the EAC Treaty clearly sets out that it’s only the Summit, Council of Ministers and the Partner States who may seek an advisory opinion from the Court when there is need.
The court will deliver its ruling on May 29 but ordered in the interim that the status quo be maintained and it restrained EALA from deliberating on the issue of the removal of the Speaker pending delivery of its ruling.
EAC court blocks Zziwa removal