East Africa: Uncertainty As EAC Summit Is Postponed

Arusha — Uncertainty hanged around the East African Community (EAC) as the bloc's heads of state summit, which was slated for November 30 has been postponed, The Citizen can reveal.

The ordinary summit of the heads of state was to take place in Arusha alongside with the 20th anniversary of the EAC.

"It is true the event has been postponed," affirmed an official of the Secretariat when reached out on the matter yesterday.

He declined further details, hinting the secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko would give the details on the issue today (Wednesday).

Other media reports indicated yesterday that the summit of heads of state of the six-member bloc has been postponed to a later date over the lack of quorum.

Reports quote an official correspondence from the Rwandan minister of State in charge of EAC Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, as saying that a new date in January or February will be communicated later after consultations.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who is assuming the current chairmanship of the summit, announced the postponement for later next year after the absence of the representatives from one member country.

Media reports said yesterday that Burundi is reported to have requested for the postponement of the summit due to its domestic issues, including matters pertaining to preparation for the 2020 elections.

The letter by Olivier Nduhungirehe did not however disclose which country requested for postponement.

The summit was to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the EAC, a regional body established in the 1990s to promote regional economic integration. Announcement that the summit will not take place did not come as a surprise as the EAC officials have declined to discuss it as the D-Day draws near.

"The venue and timing of the summit is at the discretion of the Chair of the Summit," The Citizen has been repeatedly told.

Sources said a meeting of the Council of Ministers normally held ahead of the leaders' summit, will take place here on November 29th as initially planned.

It would also be 'business as usual' for the EAC Business and Investments Summit that is scheduled to take place here November 28 to 29.

The latter event (business summit) was purposely timed to coincide with the leaders' meeting during which Arusha is flooded by delegates from across the region and beyond.

The last summit of the EAC Heads of State took place here on February 1st after it was postponed twice late 2018 over a quorum.

This time it has come at a time Rwanda and Uganda have not resolved their border conflicts.The second meeting to effect that was put off last week.

"Now that the November date has also been cancelled, it leaves everything uncertain as to when the leaders of the two countries would meet," a source said.

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