The New Times (Kigali)

East Africa: EAC Heads of State Want Monetary Union By Nov.

The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers should expedite the conclusion of the protocol establishing the Monetary Union, EAC Heads of State said yesterday.

Meeting at the 11th Extraordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State in Arusha, Tanzania, the regional leaders said technical negotiations as well as legal issues should be expeditiously sorted to enable the signing of the protocol.

"The summit reiterated its earlier directive to the Council of Ministers to expedite negotiations and conclusion of the protocol on the establishment of the EAC Monetary Union with a view to signing the protocol at the 15th summit of the EAC Heads of State scheduled for November 2013," reads a communiqué issued at the end of the one-day meeting.

The Summit was attended by Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, while Rwanda was represented by Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi.

Roadmap:

The leaders also directed that the roadmap to the conclusion of the protocol on the establishment of the East African Community Monetary Union will include holding the third meeting of the Sectoral Council on East African Monetary Union to finalise the technical negotiations; the extra-ordinary council of ministers to clear the draft protocol on the establishment of the Monetary Union and refer it to the Sectoral council on legal and judicial affairs for legal input. Before the Sectoral council on legal and judicial affairs clears the draft protocol.

Following the establishment of the EAC Customs Union in 2005, and the establishment of the East African Common Market, the next major stage in the East African integration process is the Monetary Union.

Speaking from Arusha ahead of yesterday's Summit, Rwanda's Minister for EAC Affairs Monique Mukaruliza said the issue of single currency, which has been outstanding, was in final stages of conclusion.

"The negotiations are over; there are just small issues that need to be sorted out by finance ministers before it's signed in November," she said.

Criticism of Monetary Union:

The protocol had been envisaged for signing last year.

The Monetary Union initiative has recently faced criticism from economic experts who argue that it will not be successful since the partner states were still depend on foreign aid to sustain their economies and there was imbalanced economic growth among members.

If achieved, the single currency will reduce the costs and risks of transacting business across national boundaries of EAC member states with a combined population of over 130 million.

Meanwhile, on extending jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice to cover among others crimes against humanity, the Summit directed the Council of Ministers to expedite finalisation of the matter and report progress at the 15th ordinary summit scheduled in November.

The Heads of State also directed the EAC Secretary General to convene a meeting of ministers responsible for energy and finance, the attorneys general, heads of revenue authorities and chief executive officers of national oil and gas companies to share experiences and agree on best practices.

It further directed the secretariat to work with partner states and other relevant partners in developing capacity at the national and community level in the management of hydrocarbons.

New appointments:

At the same meeting, the Heads of State appointed Charles Jackson Kinyanjui Njoroge, from Kenya, as deputy secretary-general of the East African Community, replacing Dr. Julius Tangus Rotich, who has been in charge of political federation. The latter's term of service with the community ends on June 28, 2013.

They also appointed Justice Jean Bosco Butasi, from Burundi, as the new principal judge of the East African Court of Justice, replacing Justice Johnson Busingye (Rwanda), whose tenure of office ends on June 26.

The regional court also received more judges; Justice Liboire Nkurunziza, from Burundi, as judge (Appellate Division) and Justice Dr Faustin Ntezilyayo, from Rwanda, (First Instance Division) with effect from June 27.

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