Tuesday, June 19, 2007

From Rwanda & Burundi With Love...

...to the East African Community!

Well, we knew it was in the works...to the extent that Rwanda would leave the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) at an Eccas inter-ministerial meeting in Brazzaville, Congo two weeks ago.

In leaving, this is what the Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister would say:

"The regional economic communities are in the process of creating free trade zones, a common market, monetary unions and eventually political federations which are evolving at different speeds, and puts us in a very difficult situation of being tugged in separate directions"

Rwnada expressed the desire to hold onto joining the SADC region just yet, and has, as we see here, proceeded in its joining of EAC.

To be fair, it makes sense for Rwanda to toe this line, for in joining the performing EAC, the once-genocide-torn country will not only be increasing the regional population to 115 million people, but be joining a regional bloc that is making strides.

The article maintains that some of the institutions both Burundi and Rwanda will benefit from joining are:

  • the East African Court of Justice;

  • the East African Legislative Assembly

  • the Secretariat

  • Defence Pact
  • , including...
  • the Inter-University Council for East Africa and sustainable development of the Lake Victoria basin

  • There are many other advantages besides this, such as on foreign policy and visa applications:

    In respect to foreign policy, the five member states will be able to take a common stand at international fora and assist each other in countries where they do not have diplomatic missions. This entails that any of the five member states can appoint one mission to represent their interests abroad.

    Nationals from the five countries will also be able to have visa applications processed in any of the missions representing the region.

    With regard to the East African political federation, the consultative process which has been going on in the three partner states, is expected to extend to Rwanda and Burundi. A federal president and parliament is expected in 2013

    There are, quite naturally, fears about Rwanda and Burundi joining the EAC, and it has mostly to do with loss of sovereignty.

    Either way, the EAC is no longer a three-member bloc, but a fully-fledged five-member one. At least, from 1 July, when the AU Summit will also be in process, here, in Accra.

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