BUJUMBURA January 12th (ABP) – The National Assembly met on Tuesday January 11, 2022 at the congress palace in Kigobe, in a plenary session to analyze and adopt the bill on the ratification by the Republic of Burundi of the protocol on privileges and immunities of the East African community.
During the explanatory memorandum, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Ambassador Albert Shingiro, who came to clarify the bill under analysis, said that after a negotiation process, the protocol on the privileges and immunities of the East African community was signed in Arusha in April 2015. He said it is about a legal framework which falls directly under the treaty of establishment of the East African community.
He clarified that this protocol aims to regulate the status, privileges and immunities to be granted by the States Parties to the assets and properties of the community wherever they are located in the partner States as well as to persons employed in the service of the community.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also added that the scope of that protocol extends to: immunity of property and assets of the community, protection of community funds, community tax exemptions, the facilities relating to official communication, the privileges and immunities of persons employed in the service of the community.
He did not forget to point out that the entry into force of that protocol is conditional on the deposit of the instruments of ratification at the general secretariat of the East African community for all the member States, and that it has already obtained the ratification from 4 countries including Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
During the questions of the MPs, they asked the minister, the motives which are at the base of the delay in ratification of this protocol for Burundi. The Minister replied that in the case of Burundi, the motives which are at the base of this delay are due in particular to the political situation of 2015, the political scale of which at the national and international level is well known.
The MPs also asked when that protocol could come into force, given that its implementation is conditional on the deposit of the instruments of ratification for all the member states of this community.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs replied that Burundi is the only EAC partner country which has not yet ratified this EAC protocol on immunities and privileges, specifying that the other countries have already ratified it and deposited the instruments of ratification. He also added that the 41st meeting of the Council of Ministers which took place on November 29, 2021 recommended to the Republic of Burundi to ratify this protocol and to deposit the instruments of ratification at the General Secretariat of the EAC at the latest April 30, 2022.
The MPs asked why the protocol under analysis does not have a French version to allow a better understanding of its content. The Minister replied that until now, according to the treaty establishing the East African community, the official language is English as specified in article 137 of the said treaty. According to the minister, the process on the modalities of the use of French as the official language of the East African community is underway.
Regarding the issue of Burundians who work in the EAC, who are still few in number, the minister replied that Burundi joined this community a little late, which meant that the community had already recruited many employees from other member countries. He also took this opportunity to invite the Burundians to dare to apply for the various positions of the EAC explaining that there are some who underestimate themselves.
After the analysis and various questions, 108 MPs who were present in the plenary session adopted that bill with certain recommendations.