GASABO - President Paul Kagame has said that there is need for East African Community member states to embrace political federation if they are to develop.
He was launching the national public consultations on the formation of the East African Political Federation and its fast tracking.
The consultation process was concluded last year in the EAC founding member states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Citizens of those countries supported the federation, although Tanzanians rejected the idea of fast-tracking it.
Kagame said that the main reason why Rwanda joined the regional bloc was to help enhance her sustainable development.
"And the federation will be the main pillar of what we are striving for – development," the President said yesterday at Parliamentary Building, Kimihurura.
He called upon all Rwandans to fully participate in the exercise and give their views on how they think the federation should be formed.
A twelve-member taskforce, with representatives from different sectors, will conduct the process of gathering views on the federation.
The Deputy Secretary General of EAC in charge of political federation, Beatrice Kiraso, who was also present at the launch, re-emphasized the need for the federation if regional countries were to compete favorably in the global economy.
"We are excited that Rwanda has launched the consultations…we need the federation because problems all African countries face cannot be solved unilaterally," Kiraso said.
She added: "Our aim is to go beyond the economic unity to a political federal government."
She said that total EAC unity will be achieved through a four-phase approach notably; a customs union, common market, single monetary unit and eventually a federal state.
During a Heads of State summit last year it was agreed that a customs union be achieved in 2009, with a single monetary unit and a central bank was set for 2012.
A commission of experts appointed to study the feasibility of fast-tracking the political federation put its implementation to 2013.
"The success of these (steps) will provide hope for an eventual political federation," Kagame observed.
The EAC Heads of State however opted to seek opinions of their respective citizens so that the future of the regional community is determined by the masses themselves.
During yesterday’s ceremony, Kiraso handed the President an EAC flag and procedural manual that would guide the consultation process, which the latter in return passed over to the chairman of the national consultative team, Dr Anastase Shyaka.
The consultations will revolve around two main questions: whether Rwandans support the formation of an East African political federation and whether they want the federation to be fast-tracked.
Rwanda and Burundi last year joined the regional bloc, and that increased the regional market to almost 200 million people.
On Sunday, Foreign Affairs minister Dr Charles Murigande said that the cabinet will this week endorse names of people that will represent the country at the EAC secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania.
The country will also elect legislators to the East African Legislative Assembly after the ratification of the amendment of the law establishing the assembly.
Two judges will also represent Rwanda at the East African Court of Justice.