ARUSHA - President Paul Kagame yesterday arrived in Arusha, Tanzania for the 11th Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community (EAC) but it was not clear who would take over from him as Chairman of the regional bloc.
The President is scheduled to deliver a statement today and will hand over the chair of EAC Summit which he has held for the last seventeen months.
The Summit is the highest EAC organ and it gives general directions and impetus for the development and achievement of the objectives of the community.
President Kagame took over the EAC chairmanship from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last year.
In an interview with The New Times yesterday, Aloys Mutabingwa, the EAC Deputy Secretary General (Planning and Infrastructure) said that preparations to receive the five Heads of State had been finalized, but that the next EAC chairperson was not yet known.
“Up to now nobody knows who will take over as chairperson of the EAC Heads of State summit,” Mutabingwa said, adding that the Presidents were scheduled to address a public rally at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha.
In a separate interview, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC affairs Robert Ssali, also confirmed the impasse saying that the issue of handover, “Is only known to the five Heads of State.”
If the principle of rotational basis for the EAC Chairmanship is anything to follow, Burundi should be the next country to take over the top most position of leadership at the EAC.
However, unconfirmed reports yesterday indicated that Burundi appeared not ready to take-up the leadership position, and options were that Rwanda could continue as chair for an extra year or pass it over to Tanzania.
During their meeting, the Heads of State will receive a progress report of the EAC Council of Ministers on the activities of the bloc covering the period April 2009 to November 2009.
The Presidents will also receive a report on the way forward on the establishment of the EAC Political Federation and also a report on the progress towards establishing the EAC Monetary Union.
The Summit will receive a report on the finalization of the negotiations on the Protocol for the Establishment of the Common Market protocol which is expected to be ratified by all Heads of State today.
The Heads of State will also be updated on the development of the EAC Anthem and are expected to lay a foundation stone to sanction the commencement of the construction works of the EAC Headquarters building and plant commemorative trees at the site.