A team of Constitutional Experts from the East African Community (EAC) Partner States are in Nairobi to collect views from various counties, professional bodies, and other stakeholders for purposes of developing a draft Constitution for the EAC Political Confederation.
The team led by their Chair Chief Justice (Rtd) of Uganda Benjamin Odoki, received submissions on Monday from Nairobi, Makueni, Machakos and Kajiado Counties on what should be included in the draft during the East Africa Community Political Confederation Constitution Stakeholders Consultative meeting held at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi.
Speaking at the forum, Justice Odoki said the exercise was being carried out in the seven East African Countries among them Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Somalia has also expressed its intention to join EAC.
In 2017 at the 18th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State adopted, on recommendation of the Council of Ministers, a political Confederation as a transitional model for the East African Political Federation and directed the Council of Ministers to commence the drafting of the Constitution of the EAC Political Confederation.
He said the mission of EAC was to broaden the community and deepen its economic, political, social and cultural integration, as well as strengthen security, integration and to expand its trade markets among others.
The Chair said EAC had earlier undertook national consultations in the Partner States to get the views of the people on the readiness for Political Federation but the discussion was not tenable due fears, concerns and challenges towards fast-tracking Political Federation.
“This team is conducting this public participation exercise which is a cardinal principal of constitution development to enable us have a stronger confederation whose outcome cannot be rejected,” he added.
Justice Odoki noted that all the projects and programmes that would be created by institutions in EAC were for the benefit of the people, a need he said required them to participate and give an input as beneficiaries.
The Chair who assured that all views and contributions would be answered and analyzed to form the basis of EAC confederation, said the team of experts would make a draft model for the Political Confederation and if approved, they would draft the Constitution.
The Constitutional experts started their work in September 2018 and have since undertaken situational analysis, both internal and external to EAC with a view to understand the context of the EAC Political Confederation and propose a model for the adoption of the EAC Summit.
The submissions of the four counties included public-private partnership engagement, proposal of a clear outline on integration of the three arms of government-the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, equitable sharing of resource to avoid conflicts, non-interference in internal affairs of a country, respect of religious diversity and rights.
Other recommendations were the establishment of a common currency and facilitation of movement of goods, services and people to promote economic integration and elimination of travel barriers, promotion of affordable health care service and diversity cultural heritage, and independent Judiciary.
Harmonization of education curriculum and professional bodies, tax laws and policies and merging of all revenues of Member States, proposed that clauses for future amendments, time span of changing or making amendments and entry and exit from the confederation should be in place as well as a system of selecting East Africa Legislative Assembly members. They also recommended English, Kiswahili and French be the languages to be used in EAC.
EAC is the regional inter-governmental organization of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and South Sudan with its headquarters in Arusha and Democratic Republic of Congo.
The event was attended by the Deputy Governor for Nairobi City County Njoroge Muchiri, Deputy Governor Makueni Lucy Mulili, Kajiado County Commissioner Justus Musau and the Assistant County Commissioner Machakos Antony Nyongesa among others.
By Bernadette Khaduli