AFRICANGLOBE – The East African Community Heads of States and Governments are expected to give direction on how the region could move towards the envisaged political federation.
EAC deputy secretary general in-charge of political affairs Beatrice Kiraso said the five Presidents have received a report on the fears and concerns of east Africans over the concept of one government.
The EAC countries had targeted federation by 2013 but the process has faced many hurdles.
“They (EAC member states Presidents) will have to make a decision if they are still committed to federation and how they want the region to move. If they don’t start by answering that question the rest of discussion will be in futility,” Ms Kiraso said.
Ms Kiraso who was accompanied by EAC officials Othieno Owora and Sukhdev Chhahtbar told journalists attending advanced training on the community issues in Bujumbura that a strategy for peace and security has been developed to bolster efforts to have federation.
“EAC good governance programmes are also in place,” Ms Kiraso said, adding that if the federation comes into place the region will have a constitution voted for by east Africans possibly through a referendum.
She, however, said Uganda’s move to remove presidential term limits could not block the road for federation. She added that President Museveni is on record stating that Uganda could reverse the removal of term limits for purposes of political federation.
Mrs Kiraso said some fears east Africans had on federation were due to lack of information.
She said there was no need for some countries having huge land to make it as an excuse against federation yet the resources were idle.Ms Kiraso said EAC countries have to harmonise their good governance and ways of combating graft.
“The laws should be respected and operationalised in the same way,” Ms Kiraso said.
On the common market she said: “The Heads of States signed it and was to start in July last year but today we will be lying to East Africans if we tell them we have it as we are not.”
“There are some things which partner states have to do. Some have to amend their laws or repeal those not in line with the common market protocol.”
She added: “It is seventh year since we entered the customs union but it is not fully fledged because countries agree on things but when they go back they look where they are most vulnerable and start putting roadblocks.”
She said east Africans want to move forward “but when they get to the borders they are asked things they can’t understand”.
Ms Kiraso said civil society should push for political federation for the benefit of East Africans.
She said EAC was entering a major stage of negotiating a common currency.
Ms Kiraso also announced that a proposal has been made for transformation of the EAC secretariat into a commission that will have powers including sanctioning errant members.
EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera on Monday said Kenya’s operation in Somalia and application of South Sudan would also feature in the Summit.
The leaders will also give special focus on Lake Tanganyika’s potential.
Ministers from EAC member states are already in Burundi and were meeting Saturday ahead of the presidents meeting.