The seventeenth extra-ordinary meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Summit of Heads of State, which opens today in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, should offer direction and clear ways to get to the bottom of regional challenges, analysts say.
The Summit is expected to consider the Council of Ministers’ report on the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement; former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa’s report on the Inter-Burundi Dialogue; a Council Report on matters relating to South Sudan; and preside over the swearing in of new EAC Deputy Secretary-General Christophe Bazivamo, according to a statement from the EAC.
Johnson Kamugisha, a Rwandan decentralisation expert, told The New Times that peaceful resolution of conflicts in South Sudan and Burundi should be accorded highest priority.
Kamugisha said: “EAC citizens have had their own share of wars which must end. As a bloc, peace and stability is the way to go.”
MP Martin Ngoga, one of Rwanda’s representatives in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), said he is particularly looking forward for direction from the Summit regarding security challenges in the region as well as the subject of Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with which partner states have been preoccupied in recent days.
Last week, Trade and Industry minister Francois Kanimba and Kenya’s trade cabinet secretary Adan Mohamed signed the agreement with the EU.
Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda are yet to sign.
“I am convinced these are matters of priority in our Community for the time being. The supreme organ of the Community has always been there to offer leadership in times of challenges and that is what we are all looking forward to,” Ngoga said.
“There are significant gains to be noted and appreciated at this time including the completion of formalities for the Republic of South Sudan to join the Community. We have also made a number of positive leaps in different integration fronts. The Summit will be expected to provide a shot in the arm for more progress.”
Peace in South Sudan, Burundi
EALA’s Kenyan MP AbuBakr Ogle expects the Summit to ensure that all EAC countries sign the EPAs as a priority.
Ogle said: “This is a deal we have been negotiating as a bloc since 2006, and we are duty bound to get it going accordingly. Signing onto the EPA is not just in the interest of Kenya, but in the larger interest of the region as provided for under the Customs Union management.”
The objectives of the agreement include promoting regional integration, economic cooperation and good governance in the EAC; and contributing to economic growth and development through the establishment of a strengthened and strategic trade and development partnership consistent with the objective of sustainable development.
Another area of significance, Ogle noted, relates to regional peace and security, given the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in Burundi and South Sudan.
“These conflicts have gone on for far too long and the Summit ought to provide concrete leadership in this regard,” he said.
Ogle’s other wish is for the Summit to commit itself on sustainable funding mechanism for the Community “and this should begin with partner states honouring their own individual obligations to the EAC.”
For the last financial year, only Rwanda and Kenya, he said, have duly cleared their financial obligations to the Community.