Kenyans tell EAC lawyers they want political federation 2023

Kenyans overwhelmingly supported a straight shift to a political federation during the 20-day countrywide consultations for the proposed East African Community (EAC) Political Confederation constitution.

President William Ruto committed $1 million to help the experts speed up the process and finish the first draft of the constitution by June 2024.

East Africans desire to live and trade across borders. President Ruto advised the EAC partner nations to catch up and implement the political confederation quickly.

Kenya is the third EAC participant to consult on political unification after Burundi and Uganda. The group of experts visits Tanzania and Rwanda next.

The Committee of Constitutional Experts for Drafting the EAC Political Federation Constitution’s deliberations in Mombasa on May 9 are led by a regional legal team chaired by former Ugandan chief judge Benjamin Odoki and former attorney general Amos Wako.

President Ruto advocated for a borderless EAC like the EU, a national mood.

Kenyans indicated they wanted an EAC run by a commission like the EU, not a secretariat, during the forums. Others desired EAC political federalism.

No one opposed political, social, and economic unification when we listened. They supported political confederation. All supported the confederation. Some even advised against focusing on the confederation. In an East African interview, Wako suggested a federation.

“We should work together and collapse all boundaries for integration,” urged President Ruto.

Slow integration, limited finance, opposing political interests, and apparent leadership ambitions have slowed political federation efforts.

Dr. Ruto mentioned affluence, strategic economy and security, and the fact that East Africans were of the same roots as the main reasons the area should merge and embrace unity.

The EAC’s monetary union deadline has been moved from 2024 to 2031.

Justice Odoki stated a political federation needs a center of authority and autonomous institutions to reinforce top-down control.

The EU is a political-monetary union.

Since the 1957 treaty of Rome, the European Union has become an internal single market with a single currency, the Euro, and a monetary union with unified regulations.

The 1999 monetary union took effect in 2002. The EAC has yet to operationalize the monetary union, although the 19 EU member states that utilize the Euro do.

On the final submission date, EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki said that most Kenyans desired a borderless EAC with free movement, residency, and commerce like the EU.

“The stakeholders in Kenya have spoken their minds and recommended a common EAC ID must take priority in the confederation; a confederation to create structures to deal with cross-border security and prevent crimes; and a common foreign policy—such as an EAC Ambassador for all foreign missions like the EU Ambassador.

They also desired a unified currency to boost commerce and integration and clarify Federation and national government decision-making.

Unlike the EAC, the EU implemented a uniform external border control strategy and removed passport controls in the Schengen Area, enabling EU nationals and foreigners having Schengen Visas to travel freely.

Since its 1999 reestablishment, the EAC has followed a historical timetable of expansion under the four pillars—customs union, common market, monetary union, and political federation.

The EAC wants a monetary union by 2031, pushed back from 2024.

Slow integration, insufficient finance, opposing political interests, and apparent leadership ambitions have prevented fast-tracking to a political federation.

“Political federation requires an organization with a central authority and independent institutions to strengthen top-down control. “Basically, that’s what we’re looking at but not in the form in which we weren’t selected,” said Justice Odoki.

The committee of experts visits Tanzania and Rwanda after Kenya.

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