By John Odyek
Ugandans are expected to observe the East African Community Day on November 30 as a public holiday following the passing of a Bill by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
The treaty establishing the EAC was signed on November 30, 1999 and came into force on July 7, 2000 following its ratification by the three original partner states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Rwanda and Burundi acceded to the treaty on June 18, 2007 and became full members of the community from July 1, 2007.
The assembly passed the East African Community Holidays Bill 2013, on Friday to create a public holiday for official festivities in the East African Community (EAC) states.
“If the EAC heads of state give a nod to the Bill, then the day shall be an opportunity to reflect on the vision of integration and to celebrate the progress made and ongoing programmes to further the objects of the EAC Treaty,” Bobi Odiko, the EALA spokesperson, said.
He said the official celebrations would be held in rotational order in the partner states, celebrating African renaissance and honouring citizens who have championed the cause of integration.
Helen Kaweesa, Parliament’s public relations officer, said over the weekend that once President Yoweri Museveni and his counterparts in the region assent to the Bill, then it would automatically become a law that member states will have to adopt.
Mike Sebalu, Uganda’s representative in EALA, said once the presidents assent to a bill after being gazetted, it takes precedent over national laws and it becomes an Act.
“The assent of Bills is a process. The Bill is taken to one capital after another and a president signs it. The assent can be done very fast or very slow,” Sebalu noted.