Rwanda has confirmed that President Paul Kagame will attend the East African Community Heads of State Summit scheduled for Friday, erasing doubts that he would skip and opt to mark Heroes Day celebrations in his country.
The meeting of the presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan, will be held on February 1 in northern Tanzanian city of Arusha, where the EAC Secretariat is headquartered.
The summit has aborted twice -- the first on November 30 when Burundi pulled out forcing its cancellation and a subsequent meeting planned for December 27 failing to take place.
“The agenda will be that of November 30 and we don't intend to add any other item. And the Burundi/Rwanda relations are not on the agenda. We are dealing with the issue bilaterally with Uganda,” Mr Olivier Nduhungirehe, State Minister for EAC Affairs told The EastAfrican on Thursday.
The presidents are expected to tackle key issue amongst the member states with priority given to resolution of long outstanding non-tariff barriers; the progress report on the adoption of Political Confederation as a Transitional Model to the East African Political Federation.
Other items on the agenda include; the roadmap for the accelerated integration of the Republic of South Sudan into the EAC, and; the verification exercise for the admission of the Republic of Somalia into the Community.
The Heads of State are also expected to assent to key Bills including the EAC Polythene Materials Control Bill, 2018, which will now see the region have a common framework on the elimination of the use of plastic bags.
The Summit is also expected to discuss modalities for the promotion of motor vehicle assembly in the region in a bid to reduce importation of used vehicles, as well as review the textile and leather sectors.
Rows among partner states will not feature despite Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza request for the EAC to convene an extraordinary summit to address differences pitting his country and Rwanda.
However, Burundi’s EAC Minister Isabelle Ndahayo told The EastAfrican in Bujumbura last month that they are ready for the summit and are committed to discuss the “issues that will be on the order paper.”
It is, however, not clear if President Nkurunziza will attend the meeting, seeing as since the coup attempt of 2015 when he was attending a summit in Dar es Salaam, he has delegated such events to his first vice-president Gaston Sindimwo.
Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, South Sudan's Salva Kiir and the host president John Magufuli are expected to attend.
-Additional reporting by Moses Havyarimana.