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Cablegate: East African Legislature Could Be Vehicle for U.S.

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RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHDR #0106/01 0341435
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 031435Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9345
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0216
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 3149
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 0122
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 1626
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1594
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA//J3
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MCC WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 DAR ES SALAAM 000106


DEPARTMENT FOR AF/E JTREADWELL; AF/C AKEITH AND AF/EPS
STATE PASS TO USAID/EA
STATE PASS TO USITC
TREASURY FOR REBECCA KLEIN
LABOR FOR INTERNATIONAL LABOR AFFAIRS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR PREL ECON XW ZF TZ
SUBJECT: EAST AFRICAN LEGISLATURE COULD BE VEHICLE FOR U.S.
REGIONAL GOALS

DAR ES SAL 00000106 001.2 OF 004


1. SUMMARY: On January 20, Ambassador Lenhardt paid a courtesy
call on Speaker Abdirahin Abdi (Kenya) of the East African
Legislative Assembly (EALA). Abdi said the EALA had a
legislative mandate through the treaty that bonded the member
states. Bills passed by the EALA had the force of law among
all members. Abdi said trans-border issues like trafficking or
money laundering, and perhaps anti-terrorism and human rights
guarantees, were areas where the EALA could play a key role.
On expansion, Abdi said that Sudan and Somalia had sent
inquiries on affiliation, but nothing would be entertained
until both countries underwent elections. Abdi hoped for more
parliament-to-parliament cooperation and that U.S. legislators
would be encouraged to visit. U.S. demarches could be served
to members of the EAL in capitals or in Arusha directly to
Committee heads. END SUMMARY.

2. On January 20, Ambassador Lenhardt paid a courtesy call on
Speaker Abdirahin Abdi (Kenya) of the East African Legislative
Assembly (EALA), based in Arusha, Tanzania. At the outset of
the meeting, Ambassador Lenhardt quipped that the motto for
the EAC should be "Back to the Future" since in colonial times
and early independence Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (and,
briefly, an independent Zanzibar) were part of a regional
union with a shared currency. Abdi laughed in agreement. He
added that many who were against moves toward regional
consolidation, like a common Customs Union, were now singing
its praises. Inter-regional trade had in fact risen. As to a
common currency- the European Union's "euro" was an example of
what can be achieved with political will. Joining the smaller
economies of East Africa together should be easier. On the
Customs Union, the trick now was to manage expectations. Now
that it has come into force, most recently there have been
three Ministers saying three very different things to three
different audiences, Abdi said.

3. Ambassador Lenhardt said that President Obama wanted Africa
within the global strategic framework as a partner, not a
dependent. He said he attended an October 2009 conference of
regional U.S. Ambassadors with the outcome being that U.S.
Missions in East Africa would take on more of a regional
perspective. East Africa was a growing market, and regional
infrastructural integration would be key to the future. Abdi
agreed, saying that the latter was not an "option," but rather
a necessity.

THE EALA... AS THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE
--------------------------------------

4. Abdi said the real function of the EALA was to represent
the people during East Africa's move toward political
federation. There were nine delegates from each member state
(45 total). Each state picked its candidates a little
differently. All were chosen by his or her country's
parliaments, but were not from them. As the "main arm of the
people," the purpose of the EALA was to "educate the masses."
Abdi argued that since the Secretariat "was mostly
technocrats," few people really knew what was going on in
Arusha. By holding EALA plenaries in rotation throughout each
of the member states, locals could get to know the work of the
EALA and, by extension, the EAC as a whole.

...AS A FAST TRACK FOR REGIONAL LAWS
----------------------------------

5. Abdi said that what was special about the EALA was that it
had a legislative mandate through the treaty that bonded the
member states together. Unlike the consultative assemblies of
SADC (Southern Africa Development Community), COMESA (Common

DAR ES SAL 00000106 002.2 OF 004


Market of Eastern and Southern Africa) and other regional
entities, bills passed by the EALA had the force of law in all
member states. Only the EU Parliament had similar authority.
Moreover, he asserted, laws passed by the EALA did not need to
be duplicated or re-adopted by the parliaments of member
states. This "blank check," as Abdi called it, had never
really been put to practice. However, on trans-border issues
where there seemed to be a consensus of the five heads of
state (Abdi named issues like trafficking or money laundering,
perhaps anti-terrorism and human rights guarantees)-- perhaps
the EALA could play a key role. Many such issues were agreed
to in principal by individual states but laws were slow to
come by given the pace of nascent African assemblies.
Currently, regional legislation was top-down: agreements like
the Customs Union were signed by heads of State, published as
law but then had to be adopted domestically. Not all regional
statutes had to go this route, Abdi said.

6. In practice, Abdi said, bills debated in the EALA came from
the Executive Branch or the Secretariat, but in principal,
bills could come from the floor of the Assembly. Such bills
might be harder to implement, however, as there would need to
be buy-in from a majority of delegates from each country. The
only bill-from-the-floor in recent times is a proposal to form
a Regional Election Commission that would conduct general
elections in all member states yet would be independent of
each ruling government, accountable through the EAC (East
African Community) Abdi said he personally thought it was a
good idea given the problems of elections in all member states
and recalling in particular violence in Kenya and Zanzibar
elections. Nonetheless, he thought such a move would have to
wait until full political federation, since such an
organization would push the limits of sovereignty and probably
infringe on the constitutions of member states.

...AND AS CONFLICT RESOLVER
--------------------------

7. As for a role in monitoring elections, Abdi said that it
had been done, but an EALA-backed monitoring report on the
Kenya elections had been used by the EU in its human rights
reports, causing the Kenya delegation to vote against such
measures. Meanwhile, three states are scheduled to hold
elections this year- Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania- so this
year might not be so smooth, Abdi said.

8. Abdi noted that there were seven committees of the EALA.
The "Regional Affairs" Committee had a useful possible role
for conflict resolution. On Tanzania, Abdi said Tanzania used
Zanzibar and the Union issue as an excuse to slow-roll
Tanzania's integration into the commonwealth. Tanzanian
politicians needed to show leadership to allay fears.
Sometimes Tanzanian leaders pointed conflicts in the other
partners-between Rwanda and Burundi, within Uganda and the
Kenyan elections, saying "we don't have those problems here
and don't want them here through the EAC." Abdi said that
maybe Tanzania could be more optimistic and say the answer was
for Tanzania "not to import conflict but to export peace."
Meanwhile, other member states might help with the issue of
Zanzibar. The point was that in this day in age there were no
conflicts that were solely a partner state issues alone.
Turmoil in one state affected the whole region. Meanwhile,
the joint union of functioning states (i.e., the EAC) could
serve as a bulwark against the spread of "chaos" from just
outside the region, Abdi said.

STILL COMING TOGETHER
---------------------

DAR ES SAL 00000106 003.2 OF 004

9. A more practical role for the EALA was to control the
budget of the various EAC organs. Donor partners still had a
broader say in that regard than the actual EALA, Abdi admitted,
but the EALA had the power to re-allocate monies. Sweden,
Denmark and Ireland were EALA's biggest donors, but there was
just enough money for each EALA committee to have but one
activity per year. A key goal was to have a professional
staff. Of the 27 who were funded and trained during the last
session of the Legislature, Abdi said, only six retuned for
the present session.

10. All in all, Abdi noted that the EALA was only eight years
old. Sure, there were problems, but by-and-large the
organization worked better than some others. He admitted to a
rivalry with the Executive Secretariat (and between him and
Secretary-General Mwapachu) but said such competition was
healthy for democracy. More broadly, there had been issues of
fund oversight, but donors were becoming more rigorous in
inculcating accountability. Overall, Abdi said parliaments
throughout Africa have been very weak. As an aside, he
commented that Tanzania's legislature had "been becoming quite
bold." This was healthy, and he hoped it was spreading in the
region. Rwanda's legislature was the only really transparent
parliament in his view, while Burundi remained "a real
challenge."

11. On expansion, Abdi said that Sudan and Somalia had sent
inquiries on affiliation. Abdi said that nothing along those
lines would be entertained until both countries underwent
elections. Ambassador Lenhardt noted that sometimes the
possibility of eventual integration could cause states to
modify and mature.

12. Abdi hoped for more parliament-to-parliament cooperation
and that visiting U.S. Congressmen would be encouraged to
visit. Likewise, the U.S. could send notes on areas of
cooperation-- demarches could be served to members of the EALA
in capitals or in Arusha directly to Committee heads.

DETAILS OF THE EAST AFRICA LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY (EALA)
--------------------------------------------- ---------

13. The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is the
independent, legislative arm of the East Africa Community. It
was formally inaugurated by the Heads of State of the original
three EAC Partners States (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) at its
first sitting in Arusha on November 30, 2001. The First
Assembly served from 2001-2006. In 2007 Hon. Abdirahin
Haithar Hajji Abdi, from Kenya, was elected as the Speaker of
the Second Assembly and will serve until June 2012.

14. The election of Abdi was controversial in that the EAC
unanimously agreed that a Kenyan should be Speaker (since
Mwapachu, a Tanzanian, was EAC Secretary-General). However,
there was not agreement in the Kenyan Parliament as to which
political party would hold the Speaker's position. The
wrangling went on for some months until Abdi, from the Kenya
African National Union (KANU) party finally was agreed upon.
MANDATE AND FUNCTIONS OF EALA
------------------------------

15. Article 49 of the EAC Treaty establishes EALA as the
legislative organ of the Community. Like most legislatures
EALA has as its core functions legislating, oversight and
representation. Article 49 further states that EALA:

--Shall liaise with the National Assemblies of Partner States

DAR ES SAL 00000106 004.2 OF 004


on matters relating to the Community;

--Shall debate and approve the budget of the Community;

--Shall consider annual reports on the activities of the
Community, annual audit reports of the Audit Commission and
any other reports referred to it by the Council;

--Shall discuss all matters pertaining to the Community and
make recommendations to the Council as it may deem necessary
for the implementation of the Treaty;

--May for purposes of carrying out its functions, establish
any committee or committees for such purposes as it deems
necessary.

16. EALA maintains seven standing committees: Accounts;
Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources; General Purpose;
House Business; Legal, Rules and Privileges; Regional Affairs
and Conflict Resolution; and Trade Communication and
Investment. EALA may also appoint Select Committees as needed.
The composition and leadership of each of these Committees is
equally shared among the Partners States.

EALA MEMBERSHIP/STAFF
---------------------

17. Membership of EALA currently stands at 52, with nine
Elected Members from each of the five EAC Partner States and
seven Ex-officio Members. Elected Members are voted into
their positions by their respective National Assemblies,
though not from the ranks of those Assemblies. The Treaty for
the Establishment of the East African Community requires that
Elected Members should represent the "diversity of views
present in their own National Assemblies," and also that their
selection meets certain criteria for gender balance. As such,
EALA members come from diverse backgrounds such as business,
NGOs, retired civil servants and politicians. Aside from the
latter, many have little or no parliamentary experience.

18. The Ex-official Membership of EALA consists of one
Minister from each partner state responsible for East African
Community Affairs (currently there are five Ministers;
Assistant Ministers may participate in the Assembly when
Ministers are not present. (For Tanzania, Deputy Minister for
East African Cooperation Mohamed Aboud performs that duty.)
The Secretary General of the EAC and the Counsel to the
Community are also Ex-officio Members. They may participate
in debates but have no right to vote in the Assembly. The Ex-
officio Members report to EALA on the implementation of the
Treaty and any other issues of interest to the Partner States.

19. The current staff compliment at EALA is 23, 13 at
professional level and 10 in the general staff category.

LENHARDT

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