14 October 2013

East Africa: Uganda Hosts Meeting of Experts to Fast Track Political Federation of East Africa

Kampala — A team of experts from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi on Monday began a two day meeting in Kampala aimed at coming up with a draft constitution of the East Africa political federation.

In June this year, Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Paul Kagame of Rwanda met in Uganda and resolved to set up a committee to develop a constitution for the political fast tracking of the East African region.

The leaders further resolved that Uganda should lead the political federation efforts. A follow up summit held in August in Kenya directed a committee headed by Uganda's Internal Affairs Minister, Gen Aronda Nyakirima, to come up with a road map for fast tracking political federation.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting of experts in Kampala on Monday, Gen Aronda said: "Our meeting today, the genesis is traced to the Summit of Heads of States of East African Countries, held on the 28th August 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya. In this Summit, the Heads of States resolved to expedite and compress the process of integration so that their ultimate goal of a political federation is achieved through a fast track mechanism".

The East African Community (EAC) comprises of five countries including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

The countries have a population of 134.4 million people, potentially providing a rich market for goods and services which in turn could boost trade and development in the region.

In November 2012, East African leaders instructed the council of ministers to admit South Sudan into the community.

Uganda's Minister of East African Affairs, Shem Bageine, who is also chair of the council of ministers was in September quoted in the media as saying that South Sudan will be welcomed in the East African Community in April 2014.

Tanzania has been reluctant in the fast tracking of the political federation of the region, something analysts say is because of fears that its citizens could be out competed in the job market when the region is federated because unlike the other countries where English is the official language, in Tanzania, Kiswahili is the official language in Tanzania. Additionally, Tanzania already belongs to the South Africa Development Organisation (SADC).

On the other hand, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda appear keen on fast tracking the political integration of the region even with Tanzania dragging its feet.

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