By Luke Anami in Arusha
Kenya’s ethnic charged society is a threat to the East African Community integration process, Gichugu MP Martha Karua has said.
"While we are talking of a political federation in the EAC we are busy fighting each other on ethnic grounds in our countries," Ms Karua said during the ongoing East African Legislative Assembly symposium in Arusha Tanzania.
"There are fears that this will spill over in the region thereby slowing the integration process."
She singled out Kenya, where political parties are being formed on the basis of ethnicity, saying it scares other EAC partner state’s calls for a political federation.
"In Kenya what is happening are ethnic alliances, which may not augur well for the region. Where ethnicity is fanned for purposes of getting power, where will it take us? We need to bring good governance in our individual countries first," said Karua.
She said divide and rule that was used by colonialists are the same tactics being used in a number of EAC partner states where politics is organised around ethnicity.
Karua identified poor leadership as the greatest element that has created fear in the EAC integration process.
"If leaders in individual partner states cannot be held accountable for their own actions in their own countries, how can they be expected to be held accountable in the larger East African region?" she said.
Karua called upon other four EAC partner states to emulate Tanzania, which has managed to espouse nationalism instead of ethnicity.
She singled out the lack of jobs, different levels of economic development among Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi as some of the challenges facing EAC integration.
She took issue with Kenya for making a Constitution that did not take into consideration the EAC integration process.
"The slow pace of the EAC integration arises from the fact that we talk more about our comradeship but we have failed to give support to institutions that run the EAC," she explained.
Karua, who was one of the panellist at the discussion; - "Political Federation; -Expectations and Challenges" held Friday at Mt Meru Hotel in Arusha, said the EAC should have a mechanism to fulfil each country’s obligations at the EAC.
Friday former Presidents Daniel Moi and Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania called for faster pace of EAC integration. The symposium marks one year since the EAC Common Market came into existence.