Tanzania officially renounces ‘coalition of the willing’

Tuesday October 22 2013

Dar officially renounced ‘coalition of the willing’—Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda— saying the ongoing tri-lateral talks between the countries were against the EAC protocol. TEA Graphic/Anthony Sitti

Tanzania Monday officially renounced the so called ‘coalition of the willing’ between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

In a statement issued by the ministry of East African Cooperation, the government also said the ongoing tri-lateral talks between the countries were against the EAC protocol.   

According to the government, the projects under deliberation by the new coalition, and which have received the blessing of Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame, should have been endorsed first by all the EAC member countries.

The statement was issued Monday at a media briefing at the government information services offices by the ministry’s head of communication department Mr Vedastina Justinian.

Mr Justinian said the communication was in response to growing concern among the public that the activities being advanced by the three EAC member countries would isolate Tanzania.  

READ: Tanzania’s anger over isolation by neighbours


He said Tanzania’s official stand regarding the willingness of other countries to enter bi-lateral or tri-lateral arrangements needed consensus before their implementation.

“This is notwithstanding the fact that the coalition of the three countries in exclusion of Tanzania and Burundi is being run under their respective foreign affairs dockets and not through the EAC secretariat,” the official said.

Justinian said the Kenyan, Rwandan and Ugandan leaders were in contravention of Article 7(1) (e) of the EAC protocol. “Even though this Article allows member countries to enter bi-lateral or tri-lateral agreements, it is a must that issues under consideration for implementation under this arrangement are fully discussed and agreed upon by all member countries,” read the statement.

Heads of State from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda met in Kampala in early July this year and agreed to roll-out several cross-country infrastructure projects in a move that has elicited heated debate on the future of regional integration.

During the Kampala meeting, the three presidents also agreed to look into ways of starting a single customs territory, fast-track the establishment of a political federation and ease movement of people by use of national identity cards as well as introduce a single tourist visa.

Several sectoral meetings have since taken place in Kampala and Kigali as directed by the three presidents to roll out the projects that include a 2,784km railway line from Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali, an oil pipeline from South Sudan-Kampala-Kenya, an oil refinery in Uganda and increasing electricity supply.

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On Saturday President Kenyatta revealed talks on the the single visa were progressing on well and could be deployed early next year.  

Defenders of this ‘coalition of the willing’ point out to an urgent need to get things moving between them, citing reported frustration by Dar which is accused of slowing down the speed of regional integration.

Monday however, Mr Justinian said Tanzania was ready to play its part in regional integration as spelt out in the EAC protocol.

He reiterated that Tanzania would wait for a response from the EAC council of ministers over the activities of the three member countries following a protest it sent in August 31st.

READ: Burundi casts its lot with Tanzania in rejecting ‘coalition’

The official said Tanzania was forced to seek an explanation because most of the issues being explored by the coalition between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda were still being deliberated at various stages within EAC.

Mr Justinian explained that following opposition by Tanzanians to fast-track the political federation, EAC heads summit had directed drafting of a roadmap to attain the goal.

He said a new protocol on the same was currently being studied by member countries before an agreement is made public.

As regards the use of IDs as travel documents, the Tanzanian government said permission was granted for member countries wishing to adopt their use go ahead “so long as the IDs were machine readable.” “But as far as I am concerned, this requirement has not been met,” said the official.

On the single customs territory, Mr Justinian said all members had agreed to its establishment in 2012 and that talks were ongoing on how to implement measures spelt therein, including  one-stop good clearance, electronic cargo tracking, elimination of bonds for internal goods and use of a single bond for exports from the region.