EAC ministers' talks for political confederation shift into high gear

Saturday May 13 2023
EAC integration

EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki (L), Cabinet Secretary for EAC Rebecca Miano (C) and the Principal Secretary for East Africa Corporation Abdi Dubat (R) during the official launch of the National Stakeholders Consultations on May 8, 2023. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG


The East African Community partner states are banking on the strengths and lessons from the existing pillars to garner support for a political alliance, Kenya’s East African Community Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano said.

Consultations on the formation of a political federation began in Kenya this week with officials targeting a confederation for a start, before finally building what could be a regional political federation.

Miano, who launched Kenyan stakeholders’ consultation, said the bloc has embarked on wider public awareness, while banking on existing successes to promote political integration. She said such awareness will help to allay unhinged fears, suspicion and mistrust among EAC citizens and hasten the implementation of the federation.

“We now have in place the Customs Union Protocol, the EAC Common Market Protocol and the Monetary Union Protocol,” she said, the last of which has also been problematic with countries haggling over host of a regional central bank.

“Besides, the scaffolding of our Political Federation, we have made significant progress in our shared economic and sociocultural cooperation and productive and services sectors and more recently, we have enhanced cooperation in defence and interstate security,” said Miano, indicating that the EAC’s collaborative areas will influence the success of the political formation.

Read: EAC seeks to boost trade under Agoa


This week, a team of constitutional experts from all the EAC partner states led by former Uganda Chief Justice Dr Benjamin Odoki and Kenya’s former Attorney-General Amos Wako began engaging Kenyans from the 47 counties on the type of constitution the EAC should have for a political federation. The team is expected to meet with President William Ruto.

Consultations have happened in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda and will move to Tanzania, South Sudan and the DR Congo.

Theoretical framework

Justice Odoki said experts have developed a theoretical framework of a political confederation following an extensive analysis of the EAC integration in line with the EAC Treaty, protocols, laws and reports.

The proposal of a political confederation means a common monitoring mechanism, where the region adopts common political features and customs.

In May 2017, EAC Heads of State had adopted the political confederation as a transitional model of the East African Political Federation.
“Every country is committed, as you know DRC joined last year, and they are in the process of integration, and we are also talking with Somalia to see how we can bring them on-board, because when the region is united there is a huge economic benefit,” said Dr Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary-General.

"We have support of all countries, and the presence of Prof Idd Mandi Ramadhani (former Tanzanian Chief Justice who serves as rapporteur), shows Tanzania is also committed and next consultative meeting will be held there.”

Justice (Rtd) Odoki’s team will mostly focus on key areas around cooperation under the political confederation, the governing structure of the political confederation and modes of decision-making by the confederal authority.

Other areas of interest include governance principles of the confederation, the relationship between individual Partner States and the confederal authority, funding of the operations of the confederal authority, the mode of adoption of the constitution establishing the political confederation, and finally any other constitutional issues of concern to stakeholders.

Justice Odoki said the experts have also developed a theoretical framework of a political confederation following an extensive analysis of the EAC integration in line with the EAC Treaty, Protocols, laws and reports.

Read: South Sudan, Uganda EAC nominees endorsed

Constitutional drafting

On 20th May 2017, the 18th Summit of EAC Heads of State adopted and directed the Council to Constitute a Team of Constitutional Experts to draft the Constitution for the Political Confederation. Subsequently, the Council appointed the constitutional experts in January 2019.

The Team is comprised of two Constitutional Experts and one Constitution Drafting Expert from each Partner State.

With the addition of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) into the bloc, the 43rd Meeting of the Council of EAC Ministers directed the new partner state to submit the names of the Constitutional Experts.

Since their appointment, the Constitutional Experts have held a series of activities. In April 2019, they held a meeting with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who was selected by the Summit to provide political guidance to the Constitutional Experts.

The Political Federation is the ultimate goal of the EAC Regional Integration, the fourth step after the Customs Union, Common Market and Monetary Union. It is provided for under Article 5(2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community and founded on three pillars: common foreign and security policies, good governance and effective implementation of the prior stages of Regional Integration.