East Africa: Six Key Highlights From EAC Ministerial Talks in Zanzibar

A three-day retreat of East African Community (EAC) ministers of foreign affairs and in charge of the EAC, which discussed the security crisis in eastern DR Congo, among other topics, concluded on Monday, July 8.

Held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, the meeting brought together Rwanda's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Olivier Nduhungirehe, Minister of State in charge of Regional Cooperation James Kabarebe, DR Congo's Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Gracia Yamba Kazadi, Tanzania's Foreign Minister January Makamba and Burundi's Minister of Foreign Affairs Albert Shingiro.

Also in attendance was South Sudan's Minister for EAC Affairs and Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers Deng Alor Kuol, Kenya's Prime Cabinet Secretary and Minister for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Musalia Mudavadi, Somalia's State Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of EAC Ali Mohamed Omar, Uganda's First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of EAC Affairs Rebecca Kadaga as well as EAC Secretary General Veronica Nduva.

ALSO READ: Rwandan ministers to meet DR Congo, Burundi counterparts over security

Below are the key takeaways from the meeting, in which the ministers deliberated on the current status of peace, security, inter-state relations; and the state of the East African Community integration process, according to the final statement released on Monday.

DR Congo crisis

The ministers noted with concern the deteriorating humanitarian and security situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They appreciated the humanitarian truce between M23 rebels and the Congolese army, that was negotiated by the Government of the United States of America, and recommended that the truce be extended indefinitely.

ALSO READ: M23 accuses DR Congo army of violating humanitarian truce

The ministers acknowledged that the viable path to sustainable peace and security in eastern DR Congo is through a political process and recommended the convening of a summit of the EAC Heads of State to revitalize the political track of the EAC-led Nairobi process in reciprocal coordination with the Luanda process.

EAC peace support operations

The ministers noted the need for institutionalization of peace support operations in the East African Community and agreed on the need for expeditious conclusion of the EAC mutual defence pact and operationalization of the council of ministers on peace and security to ensure timely guidance on peace and security matters.

DR Congo-Rwanda-Burundi ministerial meetings

The ministers took note of the state of interstate relations and the adverse impact on the integration agenda and encouraged the partner states to use existing frameworks provided for in the treaty for the establishment of the EAC to address interstate disputes.

ALSO READ: EAC meet in Zanzibar reiterates importance of political process to end DR Congo crisis

To this end, the ministers of Rwanda and DR Congo agreed to meet at the earliest in the framework of the Luanda process.

The ministers of Rwanda and Burundi will meet by October 31, 2024 to discuss outstanding issues affecting their bilateral relations.

Implementation of EAC pillars

The ministers reviewed the status of the implementation of the four integration pillars and emphasised the need for demonstration of political commitment and goodwill to ensure realization of goals for each pillar.

Member-states contribution, arrears

The ministers deliberated on the constraints of funding the community and the arrears, and recommended they be paid at the earliest by the partner states.

ALSO READ: Somalia pays its $7.8m full budget contribution to EAC budget

They deliberated on a sustainable funding mechanism for the community and recommended it be considered at a joint meeting of ministers of finance, EAC and foreign affairs to explore additional options of funding the community.

The ministers noted the financing model adopted by the 23rd ordinary summit of November 2023.

Amendment of EAC treaty

The ministers also took note of the urgency to complete the process of amending the treaty for the establishment of the EAC and report to the summit accordingly. The ministers also agreed to expedite amendments to decision making, and rules of procedure.

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