The First Instance Division granted leave to Uganda’s EALA representative Fred Mukasa Mbidde, to join as an intervener in the case challenging the legality of the election of the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) that was filed by the Attorney General of the Republic of Burundi versus the Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC).
Mbidde’s application for intervention was made under Rule 36 (4) of the Court Rules of procedure which provides that “If the Court is satisfied that the application for leave to intervene is justified, it shall allow the intervention and fix a time within which the intervener may submit a statement of intervention and the Registrar shall supply to the intervener copies of the pleadings.”
The Court in its ruling said that, it has carefully considered the merits of the Application and deduce no injustice or prejudice whatsoever to be suffered by the First Respondent (Republic of Burundi) in the event that it is allowed.
The Court added that, on the contrary, “We deem it to be in the interests of justice as well as the best interests of the Community that a Member of the house who was present when the decisions underlying the impugned election were made, be granted leave to intervene in the matter.”
During the hearing in March 2018, Mr. Donald Deya, representing Hon. Mbidde said that, if the order sought by the Republic of Burundi in this case was granted, it would affect the Applicant (Mbidde) and other Members of the Assembly and the substantive Speaker, which will deprive the work of EALA that had spent six months without operating, hence a risk if he is not involved in the matter.
Deya also argued that the Applicant filed the matter on his own behalf and on behalf of other EALA Members interested in the case.
Deya added that because the Applicant and other Members of EALA were present on the day of the election, therefore they have knowledge, evidence, information and insights about the election process which he wants to bring to the attention of the Court which will assist the court to arrive at the best decision.
The Court’s ruling on the argument above, said that, the express wording of the Resolution of the House that was availed to it, in turn reads as follows: “Now therefore, this House do resolve to: 1) grant leave to Fred Mukasa Mbidde and any other Member of the Assembly who may want to intervene, and or to appoint lawyers to represent it in the case Reference No. 02 of 2018 in the East African Court of Justice ; 2) Grant leave to Hon Fred Mukasa Mbidde to use the records of the House in case Reference No. 02 0f 2018.”
The Court therefore from the above wording of the Resolution, said that, it does not amount to authorizing Hon Mbidde to act on behalf of such other Member of the House as would be interested in intervening in the said Reference (Case).
The Republic of Burundi in the main case (Reference) is challenging the election of the Speaker of EALA, arguing that, the Assembly did not follow Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly, which requires the quorum of one third (1/3) of the elected Members from each Partner State, yet Burundi and the United Republic of Tanzania did not participate in the elections.
Burundi is therefore asking court to declare that the election violated rule 12 (1) of the EALA Rules of Procedure and order for the re-election of the Speaker in accordance with the Rules of Procedure.
Mbidde (Applicant) was present in Court to receive the Ruling. The ruling was delivered by Honorable Judges Lady Justice Monica Mugenyi (Principal Judge), Justice Isaac Lenaola (Deputy Principal Judge), and Justice Fakihi A .Jundu,
Martin Ngoga (the current Speaker) from the Republic of Rwanda was elected Speaker of EALA on 19th December 2017. Rt Hon Ngoga polled 33 votes in the second round of voting against Leontine Nzeyimana of Burundi who amassed 3 votes while Adam Kimbisa of the United Republic of Tanzania did not receive any vote. Ngoga replaced Daniel Kidega from the Republic of Uganda whose term expired. According to the Treaty, the position of the Speaker of EALA is rotational.
Article 40 of the Treaty provides that: A Partner State, the Secretary General or a resident of a Partner State who is not a party to a case before the Court may, with leave of the Court, intervene in that case, but the submissions of the intervening party shall be limited to evidence supporting or opposing the arguments of a party to the case.