The second East African Community (EAC) Common Market negotiations that had been slated to begin today in Nairobi for the next 10 days have been postponed until the end of the month.
This comes after Tanzania wrote to the EAC Secretariat requesting for an extension of the negotiations, claiming they were not ready to participate.
According to Prudence Sebahizi, Rwanda’s chief negotiator, Rwanda was prepared to table its national interests that would allow the implementation of the common market by the year 2010.
“The 21-member delegation was ready and equipped with documentation detailing the country’s interests before other delegations,” Sebahizi said during a telephone interview.
He added that however, mid last week, they got a communication from the EAC Secretariat saying the Nairobi negotiations had been called-off until the end of the month Tanzania pleaded for more time.
Sebahizi, who is also the Executive Secretary of the country’s Regional Integration Committee (RIC), said that Tanzania claimed they needed enough time for consultations before coming back on the negotiations table.
He explained that Tanzania requested for more time to make justified consultations on free movement of labour, goods, capital and persons as well as the right of establishment and settlement because they were critical issues.
Currently, Tanzania is also internalizing the report from the Kigali negotiations that covered free movement of labour, capital and goods.
This is the second time Tanzania is filing requests for postponement. Last month during the Kigali EAC negotiations, Tanzania missed out on the negotiations as no one had been delegated to represent them.
According to Ambassador Julius Onen, EAC Deputy Secretary General, Tanzania had asked the Secretariat to postpone the negotiations to the end of May to allow them finalize their national budget estimates and preparations for the Sullivan forum.
He said Tanzania’s request was not granted because of the limited time framework within which to negotiate the protocol was set by the summit.
Onen further said “As per the EAC established procedure in such situations, the meeting will proceed as we cannot be failed by one member who fails to even send some of her negotiators.”
The Rwandan Minister in Charge of East Africa Community, Monique Mukaruliza, said the issue of Tanzania’s absence shall be presented to the EAC ministerial summit in June to find solutions for similar issues that could affect the Common Market negotiations deadline of December 2008.