NAIROBI – Either Rwanda or Burundi will provide the next Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Juma Mwapachu, the man who currently holds the post, has said.
Speaking to The New Times, Mwapachu, a Tanzanian national whose term at the helm of the five-nation regional economic bloc expires next month, said the decision regarding his successor lies with the two new member states, as per the EAC Treaty.
Various media reports had claimed that some EAC original members, notably Kenya, were preparing to field a candidate for the job, which would have violated the Treaty, since only Rwanda and Burundi are yet to hold the position.
Proponents of this proposal argued that that the two countries were yet to get acquainted with the intricacies of the grouping.
Yet, according to the charter, the seat is filled on a rotational basis – Kenya occupied the position when the bloc was revived in the 1990s.
But Mwapachu said: “Right now, that should not be a contentious issue because it’s between Rwanda and Burundi to choose the next Secretary General.”
“I will actually be travelling to Bujumbura next week to meet the Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State Summit over the same issue,” he said. Burundi’s President, Pierre Nkurunziza, currently holds the rotational chair.
Before Mwapachu, Kenya’s Francis Muthaura and Uganda’s Amanya Mushega served in the same position.
Another EAC senior official, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity because the matter is still beyond ministerial level, said that Kenya, which had expressed interest earlier, had backed down.
“What I can tell you now is that Kenya has given up,” the official said, adding that the next EAC Council of Ministers due in Kigali, next month, will be briefed on the way forward.
“There have been consultations at the level of the Heads of State and by the time the next EAC Summit takes place in Dar es Salaam next month, we shall have known who the next Secretary General will be.”