Case Number REFERENCE NO. 10 OF 2011

In a letter dated 25th August 2011, the Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda wrote to
the Respondent seeking an advisory opinion from the East African Court of Justice
(the EACJ) on the interpretation of Article 51 (1) of the Treaty. This was due to
the divergent views on the interpretation of the Article specifically as regards the
phrase “for afurther term of five years”. Clarity was required due to the East African
Legislative Assembly elections that were due to be held that year.
The Respondent did not seek the advisory opinion as requested, but instead
interpreted the Article and advised the Speaker vide his letter dated 24th November
The applicant, a limited liability company, whose main objective is, inter alia, to defend
the rule of law, democracy and good governance, came across the interpretation and
formed the view that the interpretation was erroneous, unlawful and that if that
matter was not resolved, it would lead to litigation which would adversely affect the
smooth functioning of the EALA. Thus the Applicant filed this Reference seeking the
Court’s interpretation.

Date filed
KeywordEALA , Locus standi
Treaty ArticleArticle 23 , Article 27 , Article 30 , Article 32 , Article 36 , Article 51 , Articles of EAC Treaty , Rule 1 , Rule 24 , Rules of Procedure 2010 , Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (Article 31)

First Instance Judgment

VerdictArticle 51(1) provides that an elected member shall hold office for five years and be eligible for re-election for a further term of five years. This means that upon election to office, a member serves five years and he or she is then eligible for re-election for a further term of five years. The member can also serve only one term of five years if not re-elected. The total period is ten years. On tenure of EALA members, Article 51(1) states that the tenure is not renewable perpetually. A State Party should be left to exercise its discretion as to which matters are referred to this Court for advisory opinion. The Respondent in resorting to interpret the Treaty instead of making a request for an advisory opinion, did not infringe the Treaty but failed to exercise his discretion judiciously. The need for consistency in interpretation of Treaty provisions, should make it imperative for Partner States to refer questions of interpretation of the Treaty to the East African Court of Justice which is the organ established, inter alia, for that purpose
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Date deliveredMarch 30, 2012

Appeal Judgment

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Date delivered