East Africa: EAC Political Confederation Taking Shape

East African Community partner states will largely retain their national sovereignty under the proposed EAC Political Confederation.

Further, constituent states of the confederation would have the freedom to join and/or withdraw from the arrangement.

These are some of the recommendations made by the Committee of Experts tasked with drafting a model constitution for the confederation.

The committee, chaired by Justice Benjamin Odoki, is currently in Uganda for public participation to determine the way forward for a political confederation.

The Political Federation is the ultimate pillar in the EAC integration process, being preceded by the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.

"Only the first two stages of the integration have been implemented. There was a feeling that we need to move slowly towards the Political Federation so that the countries can walk together. The important thing that we need to bear in mind is that the confederation is a transitional stage to the federation," said Justice Odoki.

In May 2017, the EAC Heads of State summit adopted a political confederation as the transitional model.

Justice Odoki said the confederation was a slight change of policy by the community due to constitutional differences among partner states, varied levels of economic development, and mixed progress in the implementation of the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union.

In a confederation, there would be no creation of a new state or a centralised authority. Instead, consensus will be the model for decision making.

"The member states do not lose their sovereignty, that is, the supreme power of states to manage their affairs," said Justice Odoki.

Justice Odoki said the political confederation would deal directly with partner states rather than EAC citizens.

"The Confederal authority will, however, have the right to suspend or expel a member state that violates the confederal constitution."

The 20th Ordinary Summit of EAC Heads of State, held in February 2019, directed the Council of Ministers to ensure the Constitutional Experts produce a preliminary report within seven months.

But due to lack of funds, the collection of views by the committee has been delayed.

The 20th Summit further decided that Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni shall provide political guidance to the Constitution drafting exercise.

Justice Odoki's committee is collecting view from the public for a model of EAC Political Confederation. And based on the agreed model, develop a draft Constitution for EAC Political Confederation.

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