Thursday, February 8, 2018

EA civil society body challenges ruling on Burundi polls


By Zephania Ubwani @ubwanizg3

Arusha. The regional civil society body has challenged a ruling by the First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice on the 2015 presidential polls in Burundi. 

The appeal submitted to the Appellate Division of EACJ by the East African Civil Society Organisation's Forum objects to part of the judgement made by the Court in its ruling on September 29, 2016.

In its judgement, the First Instance Division of the regional Court declined an invitation to challenge a decision of the Constitutional Court of Burundi on eligibility of incumbent President Pierre Nkurunziza to vie for presidency on another term.

The appeal by the Arusha-based civil society body heard in the court on Wednesday has been filed against the Attorney General of Burundi and the secretary general of the East African Community (EAC).

The First Instance Division of EACJ held in its September 2016 ruling, among other things, ruled that its primacy in the interpretation of the EAC Treaty does not extend to interrogation of decisions of other courts.

It further ruled out that the independence of the national courts is a paramount principle of the rule of law in the Treaty and that the court could not interfere with that independence.

But, the appellant alleged that the First Instance Division erred in law and urged the Appellate Division to reverse the decision of the lower court.

Advocate Donald Deya for the appellant submitted that the Court erred in law by disavowing the jurisdiction to review and quash the judgement of the Constitutional Court of Burundi.

According to the Arusha-based lawyer, Articles 23 and 27 of the EAC Treaty bestows upon the EA Court the jurisdiction to review any decision of court, organ or institution of any partner state to ensure compliance with the Treaty.

Counsel Nestor Kayobera for Burundi Attorney General submitted that the Court made a reasonable judgement and that it had not erred in law nor had they committed any procedural irregularities.

He further argued that the appellant could not pass the standard established under Article 35 A of the EAC Treaty.

Finally, he argued the Court (First Instance Division of the EACJ) made no error in law by declaring there was no cause of action against the EAC secretary general.

The respondents, the Attorney General of Burundi and the EAC secretary general prayed for the dismissal of the appeal with costs.