By Our Reporter
The 9th East African Inter-parliamentary Games in Bujumbura, Burundi have on Saturday, kicked off with curtain-raising games. The games are expected to start on Sunday after Team Uganda that consists of MPs were on Friday flagged off from Entebbe Airport.
On Saturday, the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly Rt. Hon. Pascal Nyabenda called on the East African Community partner states to support them in organising and having free and fair elections in 2020.
Nyabenda said that in May 2018, Burundians amended the constitution by referendum with the sole purpose of living in harmony.
“The new constitution favours peace, reconciliation and national unity; it harmonizes some of its key provisions with those of the treaty for the establishment of the East African community,” he said.
In his revelation, he said President Pierre Nkurunziza will not be seeking re-election in 2020, adding that there is need to have support from the partner states in, ‘helping us organise peaceful, fair,transparent and inclusive elections’.
He said that the games should be used as an avenue for the fast tracking of the East African Integration process.
“These games are held in accordance with the provisions of the treaty for the establishment of the East African community which provides that partner states shall promote close cooperation amongst themselves,” Nyabenda added.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon Betty Aol Ocan who is leading the Ugandan delegation to the games welcomed the call by Burundi for support towards having elections that will lead to lasting peace in the country.
“This is a very good example because the president is not going to stand again. When they call in other countries to help, they also have challenges which they need to overcome,” Aol Ocan said.
She also said that the games are important in the fast tracking of the East African Community intergration.
“As much as the games are for our health, but these ones are to make sure that the six East African nations becomes one and respect each other despite of our diversity,” she added.
Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang welcomed the idea of the inter-parliamentary games with a call for closer cooperation amongst members’ states. He said that Uganda is ready to defend the title in football. Ogwang is the team’s striker after emerging one of the top scorers in last year’s tournament.
Hon Susan Nakawuki, the chairperson of the organising committee of the games called on the member states to make their financial obligations that are crucial in the running of the East African Legislative Assembly secretariat that among others organises such tournaments.
The games that kick off Sunday, 02 December will run until the 10 December 2018 with football, netball, volleyball and athletics among the disciplines. The others are golf, tug of war and walking race.
Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the East African Legislative Assembly are taking part in this year’s events. Rwanda has not sent a team while South Sudan is an observer.