The East African Community (EAC) now comprises of five countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
The Community is aiming for a political union in a few years, effectively creating one country out of the current five countries.
Kenya and Uganda favour a fast track approach towards a political union; Tanzania favours a slow and stepwise approach.
Rwanda and Burundi have not yet consulted their populations to show which approach they prefer. This article explores a fast-track stepwise approach to the creation of United States of East Africa.
Tanzania’s slow-down approach is understandable as this is not the first time a federation is being attempted.
The first EAC was created in 1967 and it collapsed in 1977 due to serious political differences between the three member states of the time: Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.
The second EAC was designed in January 1999; the Treaty for its establishment was signed on November 1999 and entered into force on 7th July 2000 following its ratification by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Rwanda and Burundi were admitted into EAC on 18th June 2007 and became full members on July 1, 2007, almost a year ago.
The steps considered by EAC are: a Common Market by 2010, a Monetary Union by 2012 and later on a Political Federation of the East African States.
I do agree with the cautious approach adopted by Tanzania considering: the political violence in Kenya’s last elections showed some serious issues in Kenyan tribal society, the slow process of settling the war in the Northern Uganda, the violent send-off of Rwandan refugees from Tanzania, the existing difficulties between Zanzibar and the mainland Tanzania, the slow process of settling war in Burundi, the genocide ideology that raises its ugly head in Rwanda from time to time. East Africa has a lot of issues to settle before becoming a peaceful United States of East Africa.
The fast-track stepwise approach advocated by this article is interested in building a Federation of East Africa States based on “easy association” of people in these countries:
Rwanda and Burundi are twin countries having same people, same culture, same language and same problems; Uganda and Rwanda have many close ties, one of which is that Banyarwanda tribe is among Ugandan Tribes; Uganda and Kenya have many tribal ties and financially need each other; Kenya and Tanzania are big countries who may have competing commercial interests and suspicions that Kenya’s bigger industrial base may overwhelm Tanzania’s smaller industry.
Step 1 would take place in 2010: elections in Rwanda and Burundi would create a Federation of Rwanda-Burundi as one entity with two regions: Rwanda and Burundi. This is reasonably easy as Rwanda-Urundi used to be one country during colonial times.
We would elect a President for the Federation, a Vice-President for Rwanda, a Vice-President for Burundi, a Federal Government made of 30 ministers from Rwanda and Burundi regions, a Federal Parliament, a single Federal Defence Force, one language called “Urulimi” combining the strength of Kinyarwanda and Kirundi, two regional governments.
This step would coincide with the establishment of EAC Common Market by 2010 between Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda-Burundi.
The Federal Defence Force would be responsible for maintaining security on the territory of the Federation.
This is an area where the original Rwandan troops would be helpful to the security of Burundi region; this would also solve once and for all the genocide ideology in the Southern Province that gets ignited time and again by the close proximity of Burundi Northern Region where Hutu and Tutsi labels still mean something.
This step would create a country of almost 20 million people, easily comparable to Uganda’s 22 million and about half the population of Kenya or Tanzania.
Step 2 would take place in 2012 and coincide with the establishment of EAC Monetary Union. The Federation of Rwanda-Burundi would invite Uganda and Kenya to join the political federation and rename it United States of East Africa.
This seems possible as both Uganda and Kenya favour fast-tracking. The EAC Monetary Union would be between United States of East Africa (USEA) and United Republic of Tanzania.
Tanzania would establish how many years it needs to observe USEA before it makes its decision to join. At this time USEA would be made of: Rwanda-Burundi, Uganda and Kenya and would have a population close to 100 million people.
Step 3 would take place around 2015. Tanzania would decide to join or not to join United States of East Africa.
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