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East African Community (EAC)

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The Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation was first formed in 1967 as the East African Community. It collapsed in 1977 due to political differences.Following the dissolution of the organisation, former Member States negotiated a Mediation Agreement for the Division of Assets and Liabilities, which they signed in 1984. However, as one of the provisions of the Mediation Agreement, the three States agreed to explore areas of future co-operation and to make concrete arrangements for
such co-operation.

Subsequent meetings of the three Heads of State led to the signing of the Agreement for the Establishment of the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation on November 30, 1993. Full East African Co-operation efforts began on March 14, 1996 when the Secretariat of the Permanent Tripartite Commission was launched at the Headquarters of the EAC in Arusha, Tanzania.

Considering the need to consolidate regional co-operation, the East African Heads of State, at their second Summit in Arusha on 29 April 1997, directed the Permanent Tripartite Commission to start the process of upgrading the Agreement establishing the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation into a Treaty.

During a one-day summit in Arusha, Tanzania on 22 January 1999, the Heads of State of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda resolved to sign the Treaty re-establishing the East African Community (EAC) by the end of July 1999. The community was to take over from the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Co-operation.

In addition to a decision to re-establish the East African Community by the end of 1999, other issues raised at the EAC Summit of January 1999 included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Foreign Policy Co-ordination; Zero tariff rates to be
adopted by 1 July 1999 and the implementation of COMESA's 80% tariff reduction objective at the same time; setting up of a mechanism to deal with terrorism in the region; and postponement in admitting Rwanda and Burundi to the EAC.

Apparently, the inclusion in the agenda on the question whether Rwanda should be admitted to the EAC caused a heated debate during a preparatory meeting attended by the three Foreign Ministers on 21 January 1999. The Ugandan delegation wanted Rwanda to be admitted, but Tanzania disagreed arguing that it was not possible to admit new members at this stage, as the procedure for doing so was still being debated. The proposal by Uganda was defeated when the Tanzanian and Kenyan delegates voted against it.

The Memorandum on Foreign Policy Co-ordination, signed by Foreign Ministers from the three countries, involves the three member states taking a common stand at international fora in assisting each other in countries where they do not have Missions. This entails that any of the three member states can appoint one Mission to represent their interests abroad. Nationals from the three countries will also be able to have visa applications processed in any of the Missions representing the region.

President Moi suggested that the countries of the region might even form a political federation and suggested in this regard the creation of a regional assembly with limited powers.

The East African passport was officially launched on 1 April 1999. At the same time, it was confirmed that the EAC planned to establish a free trade area in July 1999 and a common external tariff by the year 2000. In May 1999 a high level EAC task force met in Arusha and recommended a delay in the elimination of tariffs (to 1 July 2000) as well as a maximum common external tariff of 25%.

A meeting of experts took place at the EAC Secretariat in Arusha from 28 June to 7 July 1999 and resulted in the revision and redrafting of trade provisions of the draft treaty. Members of the three task forces also agreed on the creation of a customs union, the removal of internal tariffs by July 2000 and the removal of non-tariff barriers to importation of goods originating from the partner states within twelve months of coming into force of the treaty.

The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community was signed in Arusha on 30 November 1999. The Treaty entered into force on 7 July 2000 following the conclusion of the process of its ratification and deposit of the Instruments of Ratification with the Secretary General by all the three Partner States. The EAC was inaugurated in January 2001.

The Treaty calls for a customs union (the framework of which was to be negotiated over the next four years), common market and monetary union and sets the ultimate objective as the birth of a political federation of east African states. Among the key institutions are an East African parliament, a regional stock exchange and a joint court of justice.

During the 5th Summit of the Heads of State and Government, held in Arusha, Tanzania on 2 March 2004, the presidents Mkapa of Tanzania, Museveni of Uganda and Kibaki of Kenya signed a Protocol establishing the East African Customs Union. The Protocol will have to be ratified by all three member states, and is expected to enter into force by 1July 2004. This will create a common market of 90 million people, with an estimated US$30 billion market potential.

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The Commission aims to improve and strengthen co-operation on the basis of the historical ties and understanding between the people of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. In this regard the countries emphasise co-operation in the priority areas of transport and
communication, trade and industry, security, immigration and the promotion of investment in the region.

The EAC's bid to create a single East African market entails easing travel restrictions, harmonising tariffs, increasing co-operation among security forces, improving communications, sharing electrical power and addressing Lake Victoria issues. Concrete measures toward integration include freely exchangeable currencies (and ultimately a single currency), a common East African passport, a common flag and a double taxation accord. It also aims to abolish all tariffs with the aim of attaining economic and political integration. Each member would, however, be allowed to extract a maximum 10% surcharge on some products in order to protect indigenous industries, especially in the smaller economies of Tanzania and Uganda.

This will be achieved through the establishment of a Customs Union as the entry point of the Community, a Common Market, subsequently a Monetary Union and ultimately a Political Federation of the East African States.

The regional organisation aims at achieving its goals and objectives through: -

• promotion of a sustainable growth and equitable development of the region, including rational utilisation of the region's natural resources and protection of the environment;
• strengthening and consolidation of the longstanding political, economic, social, cultural and traditional ties and associations between the peoples of the region in promoting a people-centred mutual development;
• enhancement and strengthening of participation of the private sector and civil society;
• mainstreaming of gender in all its programmes and enhancement of the role of women in development;
• promotion of good governance, including adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities and gender equality; and
• promotion of peace, security and stability within the region and good

The East African Community operates on the basis of a five-year Development Strategy. The Strategy document spells out the policy guidelines, priority programmes and implementation schedules.

The EAC strategy emphasises economic co-operation and development with a strong focus on the social dimension. The role of the private sector and civil society is considered as central and crucial to the regional integration and development in a veritable partnership with the public sector.

Establishment of an internationally competitive single market and investment area in East Africa is accorded priority alongside the development of regional infrastructure, human resource, science and technology.

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The main organs of the EAC are the Summit of Heads of State and Government; the Council of Ministers; the Co-ordination Committee; Sectoral Committees; the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly; and the Secretariat.

The Summit consists of the Heads of State and Government of the Partner States. Its function is to give general direction and impetus to the achievement of the objectives of the Community. The Summit meets at least once a year to consider the annual progress reports and such other reports submitted to it by the Council of Ministers. It may also hold extraordinary meetings as necessary.

The Council of Ministers is the policy organ of the Community. It consists of the Ministers responsible for regional co-operation of each Partner State and such other Ministers of the Partner States as each Partner State shall determine. Among it functions, the Council promotes, monitors and keeps under constant review the implementation of the programmes of the Community and ensures the proper functioning of the regional organisation. The Council meets in regular session twice a year, one of which is held immediately preceding a meeting of the Summit, and may hold extraordinary meetings as necessary. The Council may establish Sectoral Councils to deal with such matters as arise under the Treaty, and the decisions of such councils will have the same effect as those of the Council of Ministers.

The Co-ordination Committee consists of the Permanent Secretaries responsible for regional co-operation in each Partner State and such other Permanent Secretaries of the Partner States as each Partner State may determine. The Committee reports to the Council of Ministers and co-ordinates the activities of the Sectoral Committees.

Sectoral Committees report to the Co-ordination Committee. They are established by the Council on the basis of the recommendations of the Co-ordination Committee, that spell out their composition and functions. The Sectoral Committees prepare comprehensive implementation programmes, setting out priorities with respect to the various sectors as well as monitor their implementation.

The East African Court of Justice, initially, has jurisdiction over the interpretation and application of the Treaty on Common Market Matters. The Court's appellate, human rights and other jurisdiction are to be determined by the Council of Ministers in a
Protocol to be concluded at a later date.

The East African Legislative Assembly is the legislative organ of the EAC. Its membership consists of 27 elected members, nine from each Partner State, plus five exofficio members; the three Ministers responsible for regional co-operation, the Secretary General and the Counsel to the Community.

The Secretariat is the executive organ of the Community. It is headed by the Secretary General who is assisted by two Deputy Secretaries General and includes the offices of Counsel to the Community and other officers appointed by the Council. The core budget of the EAC's Secretariat is funded by equal contributions from the Partner States. Regional Projects and Programmes are funded through the mobilisation of resources from both within and outside the region.

Autonomous Institutions of the Community are the East African Development Bank, Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation, Inter-University Council for East Africa, East African Civil Aviation Academy, East African School of Librarianship; and such other
institutions as may be established by the Council.

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Political and military tensions between the three economic powers of East Africa had long been strained by personal animosities between their leaders. Former President Moi of Kenya and President Museveni of Uganda were particularly mistrustful of each other, and Tanzania’s brush with African socialism was a world apart from Kenya’s pro- Western economic policies. However, these animosities are now mostly in the past, especially after the change of government in Kenya in 2003.

Although its priority is economic co-operation, the EAC believes it can play a role in enhancing regional stability. In 1998, as a demonstration of the new spirit of cooperation, 1 500 soldiers from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania took part in a joint training exercise in the desert terrain of Northern Kenya. The one-month exercise, code-named Natural Fire, was undertaken with assistance from the US Army.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Defence was signed in April 1998 and revised in 2001. On 18 October 1998, an EAC Summit on the security situation in the DRC took place in Nairobi. The summit agreed to support SADC efforts already under way in consultation with the UN and OAU.

The EAC has established a Sectoral Committee on Co-operation in Defence, as well as an Inter-State Security Committee. During 2003, these committees held meetings inter alia to exchange information on implementation of National Action Plans in line with the Nairobi Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons; to draft modalities for a common refugee registration mechanism; and a Defence Experts’ Working Group on Operations and Training to discuss joint exercises on peacekeeping operations, counterterrorism and military level participation in disaster response.


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