Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has cited ‘contempt and danger’ as the major obstacles to the immediate integration of the East African Community.
President Museveni who is now the former chairperson of the East African Community made these remarks on Saturday as leaders of the regional bloc prepared to sign the Monetary Union Protocol.
The president however did not elaborate more on what he meant by ‘contempt and danger’.
He noted that since its revival in 1999 they have made progress by signing the protocols of a common market and the customs union.
He cited the issue of the non-tariff barrier which has however been eased by the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta by reduction of days for goods to move from Mombasa to Kampala from 18 days to three days.
The journey from Mombasa to Kigali has been reduced from 24 to four days.
The East African Cooperation treaty provides for ultimately attaining a political Federation for East Africa. In 2004 after a retreat in Nairobi, heads of state including former Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania committed themselves to an East African Integration.
This led to the formation of the Amos Wako committee that was tasked to carry out consultations through the five east African countries which produced support for a political federation and its fast tracking except for Tanzania where there was less support for fast tracking but overwhelming support for federation.
The matter was again discussed in the last meeting in Nairobi, but President Museveni says it has increased awareness in Africa and East Africa. These factors include contempt for Africa and danger to the sovereignty of the African countries that was especially exhibited in the recent attack on Libya by external powers who could not allow African leaders to land in Libya.
President Museveni added that there is now heightened awareness among freedom fighters to ensure the ‘danger and contempt’ are responded to strategically.
According to President Museveni the economies of East African are growing robustly with an average growth rate of six percent and what was lacking was to apply the appropriate stimuli to the economies to allow for a bigger market. In order to grow bigger the EA countries need entrepreneurs, consumers for the market, proper infrastructure, strategic security to guarantee one’s interest locally and globally and credible ability to bargain for balanced reciprocal rights with other actors.
He noted that if only former leaders had attained the East African Federation, then a lot of destruction could have been avoided such as Idi Amin Dada being the leader of Uganda.
These also include the genocides in Rwanda and Burundi, the Post-election violence in Kenya, problems in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The meeting was attended by all the five heads of state President Yoweri Museveni, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, and new chairman of the EAC Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.