The First Dialogue on Political Integration of the East African Community (EAC) kicked off Wednesday in Kampala with participants calling for continued inclusiveness and participation of all East Africans in the integration process.
Addressing the meeting, former EAC Secretary General, Juma Mwapachu, said that it is still a challenge for people in the region not to be aware of the duties performed by EAC organs like the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
“I know that there are outreach programmes going on, but people still lack information about EALA,” Mwapachu said.
Running under the theme: “Enhancing Representation/Inclusiveness in Promoting EAC Integration,” the objective of the two-day dialogue is to brainstorm, promote and advocate inclusiveness and participation of a wide range of East Africans.
Former EALA Member, Ovonji-Odida called for the institutionalization of links between EAC citizens and regional mechanisms for accountability like the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
The event is being attended by, among others, representatives from the private sector, academia, youth, media, integration experts, religious organizations and politicians
The Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Beatrice Kiraso, said that the political dialogue will continue to take place in all EAC partner states on a quarterly basis to debate fundamental issues of political integration.
There is heavy debate on what should come first; an economic integration which encompasses already signed protocols like the customs union, or a political federation which observers argue should be the one to come first and drive economic integration.
At the coming Summit set for November 30, EAC Heads of State are expected to give guidance on the roadmap towards political federation.