East Africa: Lawmakers Decry Slow Implementation of EAC Peace and Security Protocol

Regional lawmakers Tuesday called out East African Community partners states for failing to implement the sole existing instrument meant to foster regional peace and security, combat terrorism and piracy, and control the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, among others.

The call was made as the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) wrapped up debate on a report of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution on the oversight activity on the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

"The protocol only makes sense on paper but, in practice, it lacks a modus operandi framework, without proper funding and human resource capacity. The implementation is still timid and slow," Burundian MP Victor Burikukiye, Chairperson of the Committee told parliament.

The Committee requested the Assembly to urge the Council of Ministers - the central decision-making and governing organ of the EAC - to ensure that; all partner states should, as a matter of urgency, ensure full implementation and domestication of the protocol.

The Council's membership constitutes Ministers or Cabinet Secretaries from the partner states whose dockets are responsible for regional co-operation.

EALA also wants the Council to develop instruments aimed at enforcing mechanisms to efficiently address any threat or breach to Peace and Security in the region.

By early 2017, only Rwanda and Uganda had ratified the 2013 protocol meant to promote peace, security, stability and good inter-nation relations within the Community.

Since then, however, all partner states signed and ratified the protocol which is - as stipulated in its article 2 - supposed to enter into force upon ratification by all the member states

The EAC peace and security institutional framework includes: a peace and security department; an early warning centre (a situation room for anticipating, monitoring, and analysing conflicts within the region, as well in the surrounding countries); a panel of eminent persons; and a defence liaison office, among others.

Shedding light on the cause of the problem, the lawmaker noted that, first; the Council has to ensure that the institutional framework to operationalise the Protocol is in place. Secondary, he said, the EAC Treaty is not flexible enough to allow the implementation of the Protocol.

It was noted that that the EAC Treaty needs to be very explicit to provide the rest of instruments and institutions the flexibility to allow them to provide the peace and security framework to undertake necessary measures in order to fill the gaps.

For that to happen, the lawmaker said, the Treaty needs to be amended.

Sources say that issues of bureaucracy and lack of political will, or both, are to blame for the slow progress as regards implementation in other partner states.

It is due to such EAC institutional gaps that, for example, the bloc cannot effectively tackle conflicts between partner states.

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