East Africa: Museveni in Push for Union The Nation (Nairobi) 14 September 2007
Patrick Nzioka And Charles Mwanguhya MpagiNairobi
Kenya and Uganda should move ahead with plans for an East African political federation and leave out Tanzania until it is ready, President Yoweri Museveni says.
Reports in Ugandan media say Mr Museveni sent his envoy to Kenya immediately after the extra-ordinary Heads of State summit in Tanzania last month with the message that Kenya and Uganda can move on with the idea without Tanzanians who are reluctant to embrace the proposal.
During the Heads if State meeting, Tanzania made it clear that while it was interested in a political federation, it would prefer a phased approach where the three countries would first consolidate economic gains before moving on with the political federation.
The meeting recommended the establishment of a common market and a monetary union by 2012. Sources say that President Museveni was unhappy with this outcome and sent an emissary to President Kibaki immediately after the meeting. In his speech in Arusha, Mr Museveni said there was overwhelming support for such a federation in the three countries.
However, Tanzania has been sceptical about Uganda’s designs in its push for the political federation ahead of an economic one.
Yesterday, Mr John Koech, Kenya’s minister in charge of East Africa Cooperation said it was not possible for Kenya and Uganda to work towards a political federation while leaving out other players like Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. Important thing
The latter two, he said, had just joined the community and needed time to catch up. “The important thing is to strengthen economic integration as we work step by step towards a political federation. It is therefore crucial to encourage Tanzania to speed up economic integration as we give time to Rwanda and Burundi to catch up”, Mr Koech said.
National consultations in the three countries on political federation indicate that Ugandans and Kenyans were keen on fast-tracking the process while Tanzanians were reluctant.
Sources say Mr Museveni’s envoy told President Kibaki that Kenya had everything to gain if it used Tanzania’s reluctance to consolidate its Ugandan market.