The EAC Secretariat has convened a two-day forum of all registered political parties from all the five Partner States, a meeting slated from next week starting on September 15.
It follows a 2008 recommendation to create a regional platform to bring together all political parties in the bloc and agreed upon during national sensitization workshops of political parties on the ongoing EAC integration process.
The forum will also provide an opportunity to the political organisations to examine their manifestos, establish areas of convergence and propose ways of how they can participate in regional political processes.
The president of PS Imberakuri, Christine Mukabunani, described the meeting as significant event to her political party saying that it would provide her party with a platform to explain the status of opposition in the country.
“It’s important to meet and discuss as political parties in the region and for us we are happy because I will explain to others the existence of opposition in our country,” she said.
She noted that there are some regional political parties that have cast doubt on the existence of opposition in Rwanda adding that the forum has come at the right time.
According to the statement from the EAC Secretariat, the forum will allow participants to discuss issues related to registration, internal party democracy; to what extent political parties address regional issues as well as how they can work together to promote democracy, peace and stability.
"National political parties have a critical role in popularizing the EAC, especially the importance of deepening economic and political integration," says EAC Deputy SG (Political Federation), Beatrice Kiraso.
"There are 158 national political parties in the EAC Partner States, thus the need to discuss mechanisms of forming regional forum as the integration now moves towards the ultimate goal of a Political Federation," Kiraso added.
She stated that the EAC’s political federation was a process, expected to go through vigorous discussions and debates with various stakeholders, including politicians, academics, legislators, civil society organizations and private sector.
"The EAC Political Federation cannot be a one-off event; it should be a thorough process and must be embraced by the people of East Africa," she said.
The Nairobi forum is expected to attract over 250 delegates representing political parties, national parliaments, registrars of political parties, electoral management bodies among others.
Discussions will focus on political party forms and structural foundations; the role of political parties in the integration; and the role of political parties in mitigating election violence.
The recommendations of the forum will be presented to the EAC Council of Ministers due in November this year.