Regional legislators, government officials and civil society representatives will converge in Arusha, Tanzania next week to deliberate on strategies to transform societies and contain insecurity in the region.
According to a communiqué released by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the two-day conference is expected to analyse emerging security threats and challenges to ensure sustainable peace and co-existence.
“It further anticipates the comprehension of the long-term transformations occurring within East African societies and the corresponding effects on regional security,” reads part of the communiqué.
The conference is organised by EALA and the African Leadership Centre in collaboration with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa and the GIZ EAC programme.
The forum, a follow-up to a previous one held in Bujumbura, Burundi in 2008 that focused on obstacles to peace in the great lakes region, hopes to build capacities of Parliamentarians not only in legislating but also to influence security and peace building initiatives.
Areas to be addressed include: the pressures of migration, refugees and internally displaced people, citizenships and changing demographics.
Organisers say that communities have transformed greatly since the transition to pluralist politics in the 1990s. More recently, they say, such transformations were enhanced by the renewed initiatives by partner states towards providing a common framework for the building of an East African citizenry.
“The idea of peace and security that emanates from this framing assumes a homogenous citizenship dominated by or obedient to the state. It imagines security provision as the preserve of the state or regional economic communities constituted by or around the mutual agreement of states”, a section of the conference concept paper states.
The conference takes place against a backdrop of rising terror attacks by Somali militants, the Al-Shabaab.
Last year, gunmen stormed the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and killed at least 67 people. The Al-Qaeda-affiliate claimed responsibility, saying it was a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of Somalia. In 2010, the Al-Shabaab killed 76 people in Kampala, Uganda.
Ugandan troops are part of the African Union force, in Somalia.