EAC summit postponed after Burundi no-show

A Summit of the EAC Heads of State initially scheduled this Friday in Arusha, Tanzania, has been postponed due to Burundi leadership’s absence.

Earlier this week, the East African Community Secretariat had announced that the 20th ordinary meeting of the EAC Summit would be preceded by the 38th Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers.

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the East African Community, has been in Arusha since Monday to partake in the Council of Ministers meeting that was meant to precede the summit.

He, however, told The New Times on Friday that the Summit had been postponed to December 27 due to the absence of Burundi.

Already, three heads of state – Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, John Pombe Magufuli of Tanzania, and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya – had arrived at the venue while Rwanda and South Sudan was represented by ministers, who were also in Arusha.

Foreign Affairs minister Richard Sezibera had led the Rwandan delegation.

The preliminary sessions took place as earlier planned, up to Wednesday, but they too were mere consultative sessions due to lack of representation from Bujumbura.

“The Council only held an informal consultation,” Nduhungirehe said.

According to Uganda’s Minister for EAC Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja, Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State stipulates that the quorum is made of all Partner States representation, which is in consonance with decision making by consensus under Article 12 of the EAC Treaty.

The summit was due to discuss the status of ratification of various protocols; resolution of longstanding non-tariff barriers and the progress report on the adoption of a political confederation as a transitional model to the envisaged East African political federation.

The summit was also set to review progress report by the Council of Ministers on the directive by the Summit to have two deputy secretaries general of EAC recruited competitively on a rotational basis among the Partner States.