EAC integration

5th EAC annual Secretary General’s forum held in Bujumbura

From 22 to 23 June 2017, Burundi has hosted the fifth annual forum of the Secretary General of the East African Community comprising the private sector, civil society and other interest groups both from the national and regional levels under the central theme “15 years of the EAC :Towards a Borderless Community.”

Participants in the 5th EAC annual Secretary General’s forum.

Participants in the 5th EAC annual Secretary General’s forum.

The chairperson of the EAC council of ministers, Honorable Dr. A.M Kirunda Kivenjinja said that one of the points on the agenda of the forum is to abolish taxes on products that are imported from one of the country members to another and create a common market and monetary union. “The EAC has to stand and work hard to raise people’s standards of living. The countries should not wait for the help from outside”, said Kirunda.

In her speech, the Burundi Minister in charge of EAC, Isabelle Ndahayo, has taken the opportunity to most congratulate the EAC Secretariat and thank it for organizing the forum and holding it in Burundi on one hand. On the other hand, she said they do value the presence and participation at the important forum. “I would like to ensure the participants that Burundi is peaceful and safe. Burundians are busy working to improve their standards of living.

They have to bring about lasting peace, security and social cohesion”, said Ndahayo.

Although she said Burundi is peaceful and safe, East African civil organization forum, that is the coalition of independent associations of EAC, was not represented fearing for their security as they informed the EAC Secretary General. They also justified their absence because some of the Burundian members of the organization fled their country due to the lack of security. Consequently, the State banned their associations. According to the organization, to be absent in the forum is a sign of solidarity with the Burundian members who fled the country.

Libérat Mfumukeko, EAC Secretary General, said the reasons are baseless. “Last year, the EAC council of ministers held a meeting where they analyzed Burundi situation. After the analysis, they concluded that the 5th forum would be held in Burundi because there is security. “Of course, the organization is made of several associations but there are few Burundian associations. None can say that all people refused to come to Burundi”, said Mfumukeko.

“From 2012, such forum is held every year in one of the EAC country members. Two forums that follow one another can not take place in the same country. Today is Burundi’s turn”, said EAC Secretary General. He called for the civil society organizations especially the ones operating in Burundi to be apolitical.

In the 5th forum South Sudan was not represented. Only one person represented Rwanda and three persons Tanzania. Kenya and Uganda were represented by more than ten people.

The first forum was held in Dar-Es-Salaam-Tanzania in 2012, the second in Nairobi-Kenya in 2013, the third in Entebbe-Uganda in 2014 and the fourth in Dar-Es-Salaam in 2014.