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Court dismisses appeal over EAC partner states signing EPA dispute


Court dismisses appeal over EAC partner states signing EPA dispute

Court dismisses appeal over EAC partner states signing EPA dispute
Photo credit: Agence Bujumbura News

The Appellate Division dismissed an Appeal filed by one Castro Pius from the United Republic of Tanzania, whose application seeking an injunction to stop the Partner States which had not signed the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) not to sign the same and those who had signed, to stop them from carrying out any further procedures and processes.

On 6th July 2017, the First Instance Division declined to grant the orders as sought by the Applicant which led the Applicant to the Appellate Division for appeal.

Court in its order said that, before the session resumed it received a communication from the Appellant between him and his hotel to the effect that his agent was indisposed and will not be able to take up the hotel booking and that the copy of the communication be made available to the Appeals desk (Court) with the view that they can set another sitting day. That the Doctor’s letter granting five (5) days bed rest was also attached.

Court further said that, with the attention of the Counsels for the Respondents on the said communication, all Counsel took a common position was not in a sense a proper communication for adjournment as it was not addressed to Court, neither was it copied to the Respondents. That they accordingly asked that the Appeal be dismissed under Rule 1(2) of the EACJ Rules of Procedure.

In its order also said that, “We are persuaded by the Respondents argument that the Appellant’s conduct in seeking to communicate through the hotel is disrespectful attitude conduct in this Court as it amounts to the abuse to the Court process,” Justice Ringera read. “We are convinced that the Appellants conduct also manifests disrespect in the appeal,” Court said. “We accordingly grant the prayers of the Respondents and order that this Appeal be dismissed and costs awarded to the Respondents who attended Court today.” These were Representative of the Attorneys General from the Republics of Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the Secretary General of the East African Community present in Court.

The Court also said that the matter was fixed today for scheduling and all the Parties were duly notified, but when the Court convened, the Appellant was absent and so was the Attorneys General of the Republic of Burundi, South Sudan and United Republic of Tanzania. However, the Court had received an official communication from Burundi of their inability to appear.

The Respondents’ earlier arguments also were that, failure by the Appellant to address the adjournment request to the Court was un procedural and inappropriate hence taking Court for granted and disrespectful. Further Counsels for the Respondents argued that failure by the Appellant to officially communicate to the Court and to the Individual States his request for adjournment shows lack of interest in the Appeal hence asked Court to dismiss it. Hence the appeal was dismissed.

Present in Court to receive the Ruling were the Representatives of the 2nd Respondent (Kenya) represented by Mr. Kepha Onyiso Senior, Principal State Counsel, with Ms. Jenifer Gitiri, Senior State Counsel, Mr. Karemera George with Ms. Kabibi Specioza both Senior State Attorneys 3rd Respondent (Rwanda), Mr. Elisha Bafirawara, Principal State Attorney with Ms. Cheptoris Sylvia state Attorney & Akello Suzan Apita bothe State Attorneys for the 6th Respondent (Uganda) and the 7th Respondent Secretary General represented by Ms. Florence Ochago Principal Legal Officer with Mr. Denis Kibirige Principal Legislative Draftsman. The Republics of Burundi (1st Respondent), South Sudan (4th Respondent) and the United Republic of Tanzania (5th Respondent) were not represented in Court.

The order of the Court was read by Hon. Justice Aaron Ringera with other Honourable Justices of the Appellate Division in open Court.

Brief on the previous ruling of the Court

The Court stated that in view of the decision of the 18th Summit of Heads of States held in Dar-es-Salaam on 20th May 2017 stating that the remaining Partner States that had not signed the EPA were not in a position to do so pending clarification of the issues they had identified in the Agreement. That it appears that there is no harm to the Applicant if the injunctive order sought is not granted.

The Court went ahead and said that the Applicant failed to clarify the alleged procedures and processes had to be restrained in regard to Partner States which had already signed the Agreement that is Rwanda and Kenya, Kenya having even ratified it.

The Court also added that as far as the status of the EPA process is concerned, negotiations on the Agreement were finished in October 2014 and the same was initialled by all EAC Partner States at the time and thereafter, the signing of the EPA was considered by the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment, which directed the Secretary General of the Community (the 7th respondent) to liaise with the EU in order to organize the signing ceremony of the EPA.

The Court further declined to grant the order sought by the Applicant, directing the Secretary General (7th Respondent) to withdraw forthwith from any negotiations initiated with the EU in view of the 17th Extra-ordinary Summit decision aforesaid until a final decision on the Reference is delivered. The Court said that, the EPA negotiations were concluded in October 2014 and therefore, such an order cannot be granted as the negotiation phase is now closed.


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