MOMBASA - As speculation becomes rife over a possible shifting of the East African Community (EAC) headquarters from Arusha, Tanzania, Kenya has come out to openly request for the relocation of EAC organs.
Kenya’s Minister for East African Affairs, Amason Jeffa Kingi, yesterday told The New Times in Mombasa that organs like the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) should be relocated to enhance equity and ownership within the regional bloc.
“Being alive to the trend the world over in regional blocs and where their organs are placed is what we should do. There is no single bloc that has all its organs under one roof. We are suggesting that the EAC organs be decentralized to enhance ownership of the community,” Kingi said.
Currently, all the three organs of the EAC namely; the Secretariat, EALA and EACJ are based in Arusha, Tanzania.
While giving an example of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) that have many of their organs spread all over their regions, the Kenyan minister said that they (Kenya) would formally register the proposal in the next Council of Ministers Meeting.
In a Council of Ministers meeting held last month, Kenya requested that the construction of the EAC headquarters be put on hold because Tanzania had lost its centrality ever since Rwanda and Burundi were admitted in 2007.
This sparked speculation with many saying that Kenya was indirectly asking Tanzania to fully embrace regional integration matters like negotiations on the Common Market Protocol, if it wanted to host the state-of-the-art headquarters.
The construction valued at Euros14 million, was initially planned to start in 2005 but had to be shelved to revise designs, following the admission of Rwanda and Burundi into the regional bloc.
But Kingi maintained that relocation of organs of a regional bloc is a normal practice conducted all over the world and that it should not cause any alarm.
“This is nothing to lobby about; any East African who is well-meaning should be able to see the sense in it. If anybody doesn’t see any sense in it, then they are state-clinging on national identity. That is the danger because we are people that cling so much on nationalities than the EAC picture,” he said.
Kingi’s also added that this would eventually require amending the EAC treaty to provide for organs being spread across East Africa.
“Now, what we need to know is; what does the EAC headquarters mean? If it means the secretariat, then the Treaty doesn’t have to be amended. But if it means all the EAC organs in Arusha, we might certainly have to move to amending it and that will give us equity, and ownership with the larger community,” Kingi said.
Kingi’s remarks came a few minutes after the Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka had assured delegates at the 4th East African Petroleum Conference that Arusha would remain the seat of the regional bloc.