The East African Council of Ministers has kicked off the process towards implementation of a Political Federation after it approved a committee of 12 experts to draft the East African constitution.
Observers say this pillar, if implemented, will unlock the others that have been facing various implementation hurdles.
Tanzania, however, has yet to nominate its two experts to the committee, which has already met in Arusha to plan and start consultations.
Kirunda Kivejinja, Uganda's Minister of East African Affairs and the chairman of the East African Council of Ministers, said that despite the absence of Tanzanian representatives, “the committee transacted business and set up the timetable on how they are going to proceed.”
The team has already agreed on the terms of reference and the roadmap, which will include one year of consultations with the authorities of the member states before drafting the constitution which is expected to be ready by 2021.
Tanzania’s delay in sending representatives to the committee has raised questions about its commitment.
According to the EAC Treaty, the committee should not proceed with drafting the constitution without the participation of one member state.
Last year, the Heads of State Summit adopted confederation as a transitional model towards East African Political Federation but it is yet to be known whether two or three countries can form a confederation if the other member states are not ready.
“This will be clearer after the constitution is drafted, and negotiations will determine how to implement the confederation,” said David Onen, the principal EAC political affairs officer.
“Everything is politics first,” said Mr Kivejinja. “We are having these problems because we did not decide on the Political Federation first; if we had, it would have been easier to implement the rest.”