The much-awaited East Africa inter-parliamentary games commenced on Friday in Juba.
Jemma Nunu Kumba, the Speaker for the South Sudan Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) who launched the 12th edition of the first-ever games in the youngest nation, said the event is testament to progress made in implementation of the 2018 revitalized peace deal by the parties.
“The holding of this 12th edition of the East Africa inter-parliamentary games in Juba by the TNLA is in itself another clear indication that all parties to the peace agreement remain committed to its implementation,” Kumba said while addressing legislators from the regional countries.
“Your very presence in Juba at this point in time demonstrates your solidarity and that of all East Africans with the people of South Sudan,” she added.
The games are being attended by legislators from member countries of the East African Community (EAC) regional bloc.
These countries include Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania and new entrant Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“The East Africa inter- parliamentary games offer an important opportunity for interaction at a level closest to the masses that is through their elected political representatives,” said Kumba.
Anita Among, the Speaker for the Ugandan parliament said the games seek to unite East Africans.
“The theme of today is about widening and deepening of integration, and while we do the widening and deepening of integration we remain brothers and sisters of East Africa Community,” said Among.
Moses Wetangula, the Speaker for the Kenyan parliament said the games reaffirm commitment to the future of the people of East Africa, adding that colonial boundaries will never hinder regional integration.
“We come here to reaffirm our commitment to the future of the people of South Sudan and the region of East Africa, we come here to bring to the fore the dreams of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta and Apolo Milton Obote who sat and decided that our colonial boundaries will never hinder us from integrating,” said Wetangula.
“The dream of free movement of people, goods and services in the East Africa region must be a dream that must be fulfilled in our lifetimes, South Sudanese must feel as happy in Nairobi as they feel in Juba and Ugandans must feel as happy in Dar Es Salam as they feel in Kampala,” he added.
The EAC is a regional intergovernmental organization founded in 1967 by former Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, Milton Obote of Uganda and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya.