The East African Community plans to undertake a comprehensive review of the Treaty that created and governs the bloc, to accommodate emerging dynamics including admission of new members.
This is despite the fact that all partner members are still struggling to review and align their internal laws to accommodate the Treaty.
“There are plans to amend the Treaty. The Sectoral Council on Legal and Judicial Affairs have been working on it,” said Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko, in an interview with The EastAfrican.
“The directive has already been given by the council that we need to actually start updating our business regulations. There are a number of partner states whose process to align their domestic laws with the EAC in areas of the Customs Union and Common Market is still going on,” he said.
“Take for instance South Sudan. The implementation of the Customs Union, which basically allows the flow of goods to and from the country, is still facing challenges.” The secretary general said the review needs approval of the EAC Heads of State Summit.
Currently, only a few amendments have been carried out, which disadvantaged later entrants Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
For example, Article 2 of the Treaty on the establishment of the Community refers to the community as established by “Contracting Partners” at the time of negotiating and concluding the treaty.
According to the 39th meeting of the Council of Ministers that was held last November in Arusha, contracting partners are defined to mean Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, excluding Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
While the names of Rwanda and Burundi were included in the Treaty in 2009, South Sudan is not mentioned at all in the Treaty.
“The Sectoral Council on Legal Affairs and Judicial Affairs directed the Secretariat to determine the instrument to be used to amend the Treaty and protocols and advice in its upcoming the 22nd meeting,” reads the Council report that is set to be tabled to the EAC Heads of State later this month.
Amending the Treaty would require public participation to avoid hurried changes that could be challenged at the regional court.
“It takes a long time since all amendments of the Treaty have to go under partner states consultations. I’m hoping that within the next two years, we will be done with that,” Mr Mfumukeko said.