Burundi is set to host a five-day consultation meeting from January 14, for the drafting of the East African Community Political Confederation Constitution.
According to a statement from the EAC Secretariat inviting constitutional experts and draftsmen to Burundi to conduct the consultations, “stakeholders are expected to arrive on January 13 for the preparatory meeting”.
At least two government officials from each EAC member state are expected to attend the meeting.
In September 2018, the EAC Council of Ministers approved the formation of the committee of experts to draft the constitution.
Heads of state at the 19th summit of 2017 directed the ministers to begin the process of putting into law what could lead the EAC towards a political federation, which is the last pillar of integration.
“If we have a political confederation, it will allow for a harmonised system that will guide us in how to cede power in a regulated way until we can open up to the federation,” said Julius Maganda, Uganda’s Minister for EAC and the chair of the Council of Ministers.
Mr Maganda said the two representatives from each state form a 12-member committee of experts who will carry out research, consultation and draft the East African Community constitution by 2021. Uganda’s Benjamin Odoki will be the chair.
By 2023, the confederation model will be implemented, which will then deliver the political federation.
The Council of Ministers preferred to start with a confederation to give appropriate time for the partner states to harmonise systems. If the constitution is adopted, partner states will begin ceding power.
The team of experts and the ministers agreed on the terms of references and the road map, which will include one year of consultations with the authorities of the member states before drafting the constitution.
After the committee of experts drafts the regional constitution, the Bill will be submitted to the heads of state at a summit to be approved as a law.
If the political federation comes into force, partner states’ constitutions will become subordinate documents to the supra constitution.
“For now the situation is the other way round, in that the treaty for the establishment of the EAC is subordinate to the partner state constitutions,” said Odongo George, an East Africa Legislative Assembly member from Uganda.
If the region becomes an EAC confederate, it will have one president, and the national constitutions will be harmonised with the EAC constitution.