December 26, 1999
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda launch East African Community
THE Presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania in Arusha on Tuesday signed a Treaty for the establishment of an east African Community (EAC) to replace the existing East African Cooperation.
The new regional body is expected to expand and deepen economic, political and social cooperation among the three neighboring African States for their mutual benefit at a higher level, according to the Treaty.
The Treaty says that a Customs Union will be established as the entry point of the Community, followed by a Common Market, a Monetary Union and, ultimately, a Political Federation of the East African States.
The main organs of the EAC include a Summit of Heads of State; a Council of Ministers, a Coordination Committees, an East African Court of Justice, an East African Legislative Assembly, and a Secretariat.
Held in Arushas downtown Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium, the colorful signing ceremony was attended by leaders of the Great Lakes Region States including Burudian President Pierre Buyoya and the Secretary General of the Organization of African Unity, Salim Ahmed Salim.
Before the signing ceremony, Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda held a summit meeting in the Arusha International Conference Center.
The three leaders appreciated the finalization of the negotiations of the Treaty, its approval and the Action Plan for its implementation, according to a joint communique. They also underscored the role of the private sector in the realization of the objectives of the new Community.
In their speeches at the signing ceremony; the three presidents said that the new EAC will work closely with other African regional organizations toward the achievement of a proposed African Economic Community.
They also reaffirmed their intention to promote peace and security; and observe the principle of peaceful resolution of conflicts.
The 26-point Action Plan provides for ratification of the treaty within six months; procedures for admission of new members, and constitution of new organs and their rules of procedures within a specific period ranging from six months to four yeas.
The Plan also insist on conclusion of protocols for the establishment of a customs union; standardization; quality assurance; metrology; testing, and the formulation of an East African industrial development strategy.
Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda founded the first East African Community in 1967; but it collapsed in 1977 mainly due to the divergence of economic policies and ideologies pursed by the member States.
The three States decided on November 30, 1993 to set up a Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African Cooperation in an effort to revive the defunct EAC.
They also launched a Secretariat headquartered in Arusha, northern Tanzania, on March 14, 1996 to coordinate and promote economic, political and social development in the three countries, which have a total population of about 81 million, and a territorial area of 1.8 million square kilometers.