MPs endorse Rwanda's re-admission to ECCAS


Members of Parliament follow proceedings at the Lower House yesterday. (T. Kisambira)

The Chamber of Deputies has passed a draft law that allows the government to ratify an agreement that re-admits the country to the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Rwanda officially rejoined ECCAS in May, eight years after it pulled out of the regional bloc to “avoid overlapping memberships in several regional community groupings.”

Government officials said the country was rejoining the bloc to further its integration agenda, explaining that the membership consolidates Rwanda’s position in the heart of Africa.

The re-admission of Rwanda took place during an annual Conference of Heads of State and Government of ECCAS in N’djamena, Chad, in May, during which an agreement on the re-admission was signed.

But for the process to rejoin the bloc to be complete, the agreement has to be ratified, which requires approval from both chambers of Parliament.

The Chamber of Deputies yesterday did their bit, approving a bill that authorises the government to ratify the agreement.

Article one of the draft law says that “the Agreement between the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Republic of Rwanda on the readmission of Rwanda in such a Community, signed in N’Djamena in Chad on May 25, is hereby authorised to be ratified.”

Following Rwanda’s readmission to ECCAS, the bloc now has eleven members including; Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, and Sao Tome & Principe.

Rwandan diplomat Olivier Nduhungirehe says that Rwanda’s readmission into ECCAS consolidates its position at the heart of Africa given its other memberships to the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).

While visiting Rwanda last month, the Secretary-General of ECCAS said that Rwanda will be an inspiration of good governance, regional integration, and conflict resolution for other member countries of the bloc.

Ahmad Allam-Mi said he thought Rwanda’s leadership could bring many aspects of good governance to ECCAS.

“The country’s experience of good governance, which is known worldwide, can eventually contribute toward fixing ECCAS. The leadership of President Kagame, who is considered as a champion of good governance ethics in Africa, can also contribute to the integration of Central African countries,” he said.

The official lauded Rwanda for being the “beacon of integration and free movement of people in Africa,” citing the fact that the country doesn’t require visas for Africans crossing its borders.

The law allowing the government to ratify the agreement that re-admits Rwanda to ECCAS now awaits Senate’s approval before it can be forwarded to the President for assent and subsequent ratification.