17 May 2007

East Africa: We Celebrated at EAC Collapse, Says Njonjo

Nairobi — Former Attorney General, Mr Charles Njonjo has for the first time spoken publicly about the collapse of the East African Community in 1977, saying he had no regrets.

Njonjo, who was then the chief Government legal adviser said he and "other people who were currently in Government" tossed champagne to celebrate the collapse of EAC.

"I celebrated with quite a number of people whom I don't want to name and we tossed champagne because we believed the community was not helping our people," he added.

The former A-G criticised the creation of an EAC flag as well as composition of an anthem describing them as presumptuous. He added that Kenyans did not support the federation.

Njonjo said if he was the A-G today he would still advise against Kenya getting into the East African political federation, adding that it could take another 50 years before the country was ready for such a move.

Njonjo, however, declined to name the people with whom he tossed the champagne and are currently in Government saying they no longer shared his views.

"Those people now do not share my views," added Njonjo but declined to explain.

He spoke when he met the National Consultative Committee on Fast-Tracking of the East African Federation at their Cooperative House offices in Nairobi, on Wednesday. Mr Njuguna Ngunjiri chairs the committee.

Njonjo said there was no one in their right senses who would want to enter into a federation that could not help their people, adding that structures were lacking for it.

Njonjo said the country was still reeling with myriad problems top of which was tribalism, which the Government needed to sort out before engaging in such a move.

"We must first put our house in order by improving the lives of our people and ensuring they are economically empowered before we think of joining others," he added.

He said it was the duty of the Government to ensure that those who are paid peanuts got their wage bill improved before joining them with other people whom they did not yet know.

He further said the country was in dire need of reorganisation in terms of infrastructure, education, health and the need to stem tribalism, which he said is foreign to the younger generation.

"I vehemently believe in the sovereignty of a nation and Kenya is a sovereign State, which we fought for and to surrender it to another organisation is something I feel painful about," he added.

Even Britain, Njonjo said, valued its pound and would not let it go after having joined the European Union where the Euro is the currency.

"I value my shilling just the same way the British value their pound and I would not like to see it go," he added.

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