The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) is holding its sitting in Kampala, Uganda, beginning 17th January 2017. The Fourth Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Third Assembly takes place up to January 26th, 2017.

The Assembly is to be presided over by the Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel F. Kidega. Top on the agenda during the two-week period is the expected address by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda, scheduled to be delivered at a Special Sitting on January 17th, 2017.

A key Bill on the agenda during the period is that on EAC Gender Equality and Development. The Bill, 2016, makes provision for gender equality, protection and development in the Community. The Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC in Article 121 recognises the significant contribution that women make towards progress of socio-economic transformation and sustainable growth and the importance of full participation of women and men in the economic and social development of the Partner States. The Bill was introduced during a sitting held in August 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania. It sailed through the First Reading and was committed for public participation thereafter.

Four other Bills; the EAC Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016, the Administration of East African Court of Justice Bill, 2016, the EAC Cross-Border Trade in Services Bill, 2016 and the EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016 are also expected to be on the cards.

The EAC Retirement Benefits for Specified Heads of Organs Bill, 2016 makes provision for retirement benefits in respect of the former President(s) of the East African Court of Justice, former Speaker(s) of the EALA and former Secretary(ies) General of the EAC–specified leaders who have honourably served and completed their terms of service in the Community.

The EAC Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Bill, 2016 on its part, is seen as critical in outlawing the cultural practice. The Bill originally moved by Hon Dora C.K. Byamukama, states the culture of FGM brings with it a number of complications including early child marriage and defilement, health complications that sometimes lead to transmission of HIV and AIDS, death and injuries to those who bear the practice.

Other matters also to be deliberated on during the two-week period are reports from various Committees of the House, including that of the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment on the status of the Railway Infrastructure Development in the EAC and that of the Accounts Committee on the Audit Report. The Report of the Committee on Legal Rules and Privileges on Procurement and that of the Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution with respect to the issues raised under the African Peace and Security Architecture Project (APSA) of the Community.

The Assembly is also expected to pose pertinent questions on matters of the integration process to the EAC Council of Ministers.

The EALA Sittings are held in rotational principle in line with Article 55 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC. Article 55 (1) states that the Meetings of the Assembly shall be held at times and places that the Assembly may appoint. The Assembly however meets at least once a year in Arusha, Tanzania as it determines.

The tenure of the 3rd Assembly is expected to end in June 2017.