KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has called upon members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to use all the opportunities available to improve the lives of the East Africans, since the success of the body will be evaluated by the livelihood of the bloc’s citizens.
The president, made the remarks while addressing members of EALA, as he officially opened their twelve days of deliberations taking place in Rwanda, during which they will discuss several bills ranging from elections to the economy.
“Our countries have chosen to cooperate within the framework of this Community, and the challenge now is to make it grow and prosper. The test of our success will ultimately be the improvement in the welfare and livelihoods of our citizens. We must exploit all the opportunities available to make the East African Community a success,” he said.
He called upon the legislators to pay special attention to laws that would ensure proper functioning of all EAC organs.
“I wish to encourage you to continue enacting laws that facilitate the proper functioning of all organs of the East African Community, particularly those that facilitate effective implementation of the Common Market Protocol,” he said.
Kagame, advised the legislators to use their overseer status to ensure that the protocol is implemented according to the law signed by all member states.
“As I have noted before, not only does the Customs Union need to enable free movement of goods and services across our borders, it should also ensure that various non-tariff barriers are removed to reduce the cost of doing business and make our region more competitive,” he said.
The President, further reminded the lawmakers that there should be zero tolerance for corruption, and encouraged them to work together to remove any impediments to integration, for the improvement in the welfare and livelihoods of the Community’s citizens.
Kagame went on to emphasize the importance of prioritising EAC projects that include transport and broadband.
He dispelled fears about the free movement in the region, pointing out that free movement has resulted in unfounded fears; that the development could lead to adverse consequences, such as loss of jobs and land. Kagame, reminded the legislators that it is their role to educate the people about the benefits that will accrue to all East Africans.
The Speaker of the EALA, Abdirahin H. Abdi, commended the government’s positive development and policies that have brought about peace and security to the nation.
“We commend you and your government for the positive developments and policies that you have adopted to put the past behind and seek reconciliation and a new future full of hope, unity and determination,” Abdi said.
The EALA speaker also thanked Rwanda for the timely payment of her EAC membership dues.