Consultations on EA federation this year

ARUSHA - Rwanda will launch her nationwide consultations on the East Africa Community (EAC) political federation before the end of the year, Dr Richard Sezibera has said. The disclosure follows yesterday’s EAC Sixth Extraordinary Summit at the community headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, during which national reports from the three original member states – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania – on consultations of fast-tracking the political federation were launched.
L-R: The Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers Eriya Kategaya, and Presidents Kagame and Kikwete during yesterday’s EAC Sixth Extraordinary Summit in Arusha, Tanzania. (Photo/ PPU)
L-R: The Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers Eriya Kategaya, and Presidents Kagame and Kikwete during yesterday’s EAC Sixth Extraordinary Summit in Arusha, Tanzania. (Photo/ PPU)

ARUSHA - Rwanda will launch her nationwide consultations on the East Africa Community (EAC) political federation before the end of the year, Dr Richard Sezibera has said. The disclosure follows yesterday’s EAC Sixth Extraordinary Summit at the community headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, during which national reports from the three original member states – Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania – on consultations of fast-tracking the political federation were launched.


The one-day summit was attended by Presidents Paul Kagame, Jakwaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni (current EAC Chairperson) and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya.
Burundi was represented by Vice President Gabriel Ntisezerana. President Kagame returned last evening from the summit which was held at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge.

 “Now that reports in other countries have been made public, Rwanda will also have to start consultations on political federation within this year,” Ambassador Sezibera, who is the chairman of the national committee on regional integration, said last evening shortly after returning from the Arusha meeting.

Reports indicate that the summit asked Rwanda and Burundi, both of which officially joined the regional community on June 18, to also carry out consultations. 

Sezibera, also President Kagame’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, said that results indicated majority of Ugandans, Kenyans and Tanzanians backed a political federation, though Tanzanians rejected the idea of fast tracking the federation.

Where as Ugandans and Kenyans favoured fast-tracking the community’s federation, up to 75.9 Tanzanians are against it preferring a gradual regional integration process.

“Tanzanians are not against a federation but majority of them don’t want fast tracking the federation. They want us to go through the normal process of regional integration,” Sezibera said.
Professor Samuel Wangwe who led the Tanzanian committee on the first track of the EA Federation is quoted as saying that that Tanzanians want gradual regional integration.

Majority of Ugandans (over 75 percent) have so far expressed interest in having an EA federal government.

Under the plan, the process for a political federation is expected to kick-start in 2010 with a fully fledged federal government planned for 2013. However, the stunning findings from Tanzania signal a potential change especially as Rwandans and Burundians are yet to make their stand known.

And indeed, the EAC Heads of State yesterday agreed to set a timetable for a step-by-step approach to a political federation.

Currently, the bloc is at the stage of a customs union after which it shall become a common market, then a monetary union, and ultimately a political federation with one president.

The presidents approved proposals put forward by the ministerial meeting that preceded the summit, for amendments to the accession treaty signed in July by new members - Rwanda and Burundi.

The amendments are designed to facilitate the equitable representation and participation of Rwanda and Burundi within all the EAC organisational structures.

Also approved was a recommendation for the EAC to explore the possibility of negotiating an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. However, no consensus was reached on the proposal to allow countries outside the community to join in the EAC-EPA negotiations.

Rwanda is currently involved in negotiations on EPA within the East and Southern Africa configuration, and is set build on the gains thus far achieved in any new negotiations as part of the EAC.

Closing the summit, President Yoweri Museveni, speaking on behalf of his counterparts who did not deliver statements as scheduled due to time considerations, lauded the support of citizens in the community for the EAC objectives to reach customs union, common market and monetary union. 

The current treaty was signed in 1999 by the then Kenyan president Arap Moi, then Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa and Uganda’s Museveni.
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