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Central presents views on proposed EAC Confederation

Five counties that constitute the Central Region have presented their views towards the drafting of a constitution that will govern the proposed East African Community Confederation.

The forum that was held at the Nyeri Bantu Africa Resort is now in its third cycle after similar sittings took place in Uganda and Burundi in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

participants drawn from Nyeri, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Kiambu, Laikipia and Nyandarua while welcoming the proposed draft, elicited varied reactions on a raft of issues including the model of governing structure, matters of open-door trade policy and the need for respect for states’ sovereignty.

Ms Teresia Kimotho, a resident of Kirinyaga County while supporting the proposal for political federation proposed that  any individual who ascends to the helm of the  regional bloc should be voted by all the citizens of partner states and not be an appointee of the Summit.

She said the only way to give validity to leaders who will sit at the apex of the federation is to ensure such persons have the mandate of all the people residing in the seven states.

“Our proposal on leadership is to have people who have peoples mandate and we wish the leaders to be elected by member states as opposed to appointments. We also wish such leaders to be appointed to serve for a term of two to three years and the positions to be rotational,” she told the Team of Experts chaired by former Uganda Chief Justice Benjamin Josses Odoki.

Kimotho also called for the harmonization of the balance of trade among member states through enacting policies that will remove existing trade barriers and create an open-door trading policy devoid of cumbersome red tape.

She said by doing so, citizens of member states stand to reap immensely through a seamless investment that will tap the huge economic potential that remains unexploited due to the many bottle-necks currently in place among members states.

Irungu Thiong’o, who is the Laikipia Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairperson called for exploitation of the region’s untapped investment potential to shed the current tag that has labeled Africa as a consumerism continent.

Thiong’o argued that there exists a glaring trade imbalance between Africa and the rest of the world due to the fact that the former imports more than what she exports.

“Africa is more of a consumption continent rather than a production region yet we have the resources within our continent and within our region. What structures have been put in place with the formation of the confederation in terms of creating industries that can be able to produce for competition with the international market? What structures are going to break interstate trade barriers?” he posed.

Dedan Kimathi University of Technology Vice Chancellor Professor Ndirangu Kioni called for the creation of a common Scientific Research lab that will come up with solutions to emerging global health challenges such as the 2020 Covid 19 outbreak.

The don said it is time for Africans to chart their destiny in matters of research and innovation to address challenges facing her people and challenged the drafters of the EAC constitution to include measures on how to confront such eventualities.

“What institutions are we putting in place to be able to deal with the next pandemic?” posed Professor Kioni.

“Scientists are warning of a very possibility that we are headed into another pandemic in the next ten years. We need to commit resources as a region to address the emerging health issues and how to combat them including building a common Research Center where we can produce our own vaccines,” he said.

The Stakeholder Consultations forums currently going on in Kenya kicked off on May 8 this year and will be conducted in all the nine regions until they are wrapped up in May 27.

The current regional bloc which traces its roots from its EAC predecessor that collapsed in 1977 has seven member states including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

Among objectives of the regional bloc that has a combined population of 281,050,447 people with a combined GDP of US $ 305.3 billion, include the formation of a common customs Union, common market, common monetary union and ultimately transition to the EA Political Federation.

Article 123 (6) of the EAC treaty empowers the Summit (heads of States) to initiate the process towards establishment of a political Federation by member states through its Council of Ministers.

Under the Political Federation, member states will among others include the establishment of EAC Programme on Good Governance, Forum of Electoral Commission and Forum of National Human Rights Institution.

In addition, there will be formation of the EA Early Warning Mechanism (EACWARN), establishment of EAC Forum of Chief Justices to contribute to policy formulation in upholding the rule of law and the creation of a regional Protocol on Peace and Security to foster a common approach in countering terrorism activities within the bloc.

However, in so doing, Article 11(3) of the EAC Treaty clears out that “the Summit shall review the state of peace, security and good governance within the Community and the progress achieved towards the establishment of a Political Federation of the Partner States.”

By Samuel Maina and Wangari Mwangi

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