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EAC Partners Moving Closer to Integration

By Deodatus Mfugale, Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 24 April 2001

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania - Five years after the effective resumption of regional co-operation, the partner states of the East African Community are now headed for regional integration.

Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are encouraged by their notable achievements in maintenance of regional peace and the successful implementation of the Community's development strategy from 1997 to 2000.

For further progress, the three countries have drawn up a new development strategy for 2001-2005 which, in principle, centres on the Treaty that binds them together.

The task ahead is to translate the ideals of the East African Community treaty into benefits that will be manifest in improved standards of living of East Africans.

Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania Tuesday pledged to forge closer political co-operation in order to accelerated the socio-economic transformation of the region.

The three East African leaders had a one-day summit meeting at the EAC seat in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha.

In a communique issued at the end of their talks, the presidents said implementation of the EAC treaty should be accorded the highest priority.

They urged the civil society and the private sector in the three countries to make maximum use of opportunities which have been created by the community in order to foster broad-based development in East Africa. Strides made so far toward realisation of a sound EAC include preparations for launching the East African Legislative Assembly and the East African Court of Justice by November this year.

Officials are also putting the finishing touches to a protocol on the establishment of the East African Customs Union before the end of 2001.

As the EAC authority, the presidents have endorsed the appointment of Uganda's former public service minister, Niwe Amanya Mushega, the new Secretary General of the EAC.

Mushega, a professional lawyer, is taking over from Kenya's Ambassador Francis Muthaura who has completed his five-year term. Kipyego Cheluget of Kenya has been appointed Deputy Secretary General.

Among his immediate challenges, Mushega is required to promote "strategic development partnership" with other economic groupings in Africa and farther afield.

At Tuesday's summit, the EAC authority underscored the need for such alliance with the rest of the world insisting that this would bring mutual benefit and comparative advantage.

Copyright 2001 Panafrican News Agency. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).