THE East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Thursday passed a key report on EAC political integration, calling for strong political will, commitment and people led-processes towards political confederation.
To strengthen EAC political integration, EALA reiterated a need to adopt a triad-approach, encompassing, the common foreign policy, peace and security and good governance.
EALA wants a positive environment characterised by, among other factors, the existence of viable regional structures, seeking the legitimacy and sustainability of political integration until the political confederation and ultimately political federation are realised.
At a virtual session, a report on the progress made towards achieving the EAC confederation and on the EAC Elections Observer Missions was presented.
Chairperson of the Committee on Regional Affairs and Conflict Resolution Fatuma Ndangiza presented the report to EALA, following an oversight activity held in the region from November to December last year.
The Regional Affairs Committee held a virtual activity and interacted with EAC Department of Political Affairs on the subject matter. The activity, among other things, assessed the progress made in the attainment of the political federation as the fourth pillar of the integration process.
It also assessed progress with regard to the drafting of the EAC Constitution to anchor the Political Federation and identify existing gaps.
The report that was consequently adopted on Tuesday, echoed a robust constitutional making exercise that ensures a comprehensive consultative process with clear benchmarks for a model Political Confederation. The report further elucidates the manifestation of citizens' political will through the holding of regular, free and fair elections.
Ms Ndangiza cited fundamental tenets to enable the realisation of the Political Confederation as inter alia, allowing entities participating in the Confederation (partner states) to retain their sovereignty.
The constituent states are further guaranteed the freedom to join and withdraw from the confederation. It has a right to suspend and/or expel a constituent state that violates specified aspects of the Federal Constitution. It states further that operations of the Confederation Government depend greatly on good will of the constituent states governments.
"Decision-making at confederation level is based on consensus and/or unanimity," Ms Ndangiza said.
The report cites the principle of good governance is one of the fundamental and operational principles of EAC. It is provided for in Article 6 and 7 of the EAC Treaty.
The EALA urges the Council of Ministers to expedite the finalisation of the EAC Protocol on good governance to enhance harmonisation of democratic governance policies, practices, laws and standards.
On the four pillars of integration, the House was informed that considerable progress had been registered in the first three pillars of integration (Customs Union, Common Market and the Monetary Union). The chairperson informed the House that on the fourth pillar (Political Federation), there appeared to be a diversion with the region instead, taking the route of the Political Confederation.
"Even with this diversion, the process has been slow and riddled with enormous challenges and if not properly addressed, will delay the achievement of this milestone. The Council of Ministers needs to fast track public consultation on Political Confederation and ensure the public participation of key stakeholders," Ms Ndangiza noted.
Ms Mary Mugyenyi, said the Assembly needed to meet with the Committee of Constitutional Experts charged with drafting the EAC Constitution. Mr Adan Noor said the appointment of Head of Election of the Observation Mission should be a preserve for the Council of Ministers or even the EAC Summit.
Mr Francoise Umuwukiza said there was need to enhance capacity building of election observers, saying proper planning towards all stages of elections' observation were fundamental.
Other Members who supported the debate included Ms Maryam Ussi, Mr Paul Musamali, Mr Adam Kimbisa, Mr Mohammed Mnyaa and Mr Fancy Haji.
Chair of the Council of Ministers Nshuti Manasseh supported the report, saying it was time for the principle of consensus to be revisited in future to enhance value addition at EAC.