EAC leaders put up brave show of unity and vow integration dream is still alive
By FRED BIKETI
East African heads of states from left Pierre Nkurunziza, (Burundi), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) Yoweri Mseveni (Uganda) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda) after signing the protocol in Munyonyo, Uganda, yesterday. [PHOTO: MAXWELL AGWANDA/STANDARD]
The East African Community Summit has resolved to intensify integration and dismissed claims that there were rifts among the five leaders.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who took over the chairman position from President Yoweri Museveni, moved to assure delegates that all was well in the regional body. “The EAC remains strong and your leaders’ commitment to it is unwavering. Let us all put an end to unnecessary rumour mongering,” Uhuru said.
Presidents Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania), Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) also attended the meeting and signed the East African Monetary Union (EAMU) protocol.
Uhuru, who spoke on behalf of all leaders, was cheered after he assured the delegates at Speke Resort, Munyonyo in Kampala that the signing of the protocol was the culmination of the EAC integration.
He assured the delegates that the cost of juggling currencies would be removed thus reducing the cost of production and increasing trade and investment. He, however, cautioned that despite implementing the customs union several years ago, numerous non-tariff barriers continue to impede business and trade in the region.
Despite the challenges, Uhuru and other speakers remained confident the establishment of the customs union and the common market had increased volume of intra-regional trade.
“Instruments and institutions put in place by the community must be there to remove barriers and allow free movement of goods and services,” said Uhuru. President Museveni warned of “contempt and danger” against African leaders which is dangerous to the sovereignty of their countries.
In a communiqué, the EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera said the Summit directed him to work in consultation with heads of state and report any non-compliance by states on passed resolutions.
“The status of implementation will remain a standing item on the agenda of every summit meeting, with the 16th meeting to be held in April followed by another one in November. The establishment of the monetary union will later be followed by a common currency after all necessary legal and infrastructural hurdles are dealt with through the creation of necessary institutions.”
The Summit also directed the council to present a report on alternative financing for the EAC.
The mechanisms cited include the option that one per cent tax be levied on all imports coming from outside the community. The Summit also approved the appointment of two new judges and the elevation of Justice Isaac Lenaola as the deputy head of the East African Court of Justice. The application of Southern Sudan to join the group will be dealt with at the next summit, while that of Somalia will wait till the 2016 Summit for consideration.
Presenting the annual report of the EAC council of ministers, the new chair , EAC and Tourism CS Phyllys Kandie praised the Heads of State for their political goodwill to the integration agenda.
She said the framework for the operationalisation of the single Customs Territory had been finalised and adopted.
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Richard SeziberaEast African Community Uhuru Kenyatta Yoweri Museveni Jakaya Kikwete Paul Kagame Pierre Nkurunziza