Help! There’s a dangerous, secret plot to save the EAC from imminent death

Saturday March 16 2024

Word leaks that some of the EAC presidents are sending out feelers, seeking to meet with East African Liberation and Unification Front to cut deals. ILLUSTRATION | JOSEPH NYAGAH | NMG

By Charles Onyango-Obbo

In an interview with NTV Keny, at the start of the week, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame painted a rather bleak picture of the East African Community (EAC).

He suggested the saga of the East African Regional Force (EACRF) to the troubled eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, which was kicked out ignominiously by a disgruntled government in Kinshasa, was a low point. He said to date, no one has even bothered to formally brief the EAC heads of state on what happened.

This debacle, coming on the back of numerous ugly trade and diplomatic spats, despite the latest expansion to include Somalia as the eighth member of the bloc, does not inspire a lot of confidence about the EAC’s future. In Kampala, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, once the choir leader of the EAC, no longer gets so excited about it.

Good East Africans are looking on with alarm. A dyed-in-the-wool pan-East-African Ugandan lawyer wrote to say he has conceived of a plan that will get regional leaders to fall into each other’s arms and turbo charge unification.

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His plan is to arouse patriotic East Africans to establish a radical revolutionary front called the East African Liberation and Unification Front (Ealuf) to work regionally to pressure the governments in Nairobi, Dodoma, Kampala, Kigali, Kinshasa, Juba, Gitega (the newish Burundi political capital), and Mogadishu with an alternative political structure. Ealuf will look to create an East African Peoples Republic.


It will have an agenda to abolish all restrictions on travel across borders, have zero tax rates for regional trade, create a regional digital currency, and create roaring common market, among other things.

He believes the leaders will come together at 6G speed, and work hand in hand to stop the ideas espoused by Ealuf from gaining political traction, with its grand vision of a truly meaningful borderless East Africa. In the process, they will move forward with integration to Ealuf.

It is likely too, that they will not come together to collectively save their jobs. They might form an East African Emergency Unity Summit (EAEUS), to fight back. President Museveni might want to chair it as the region’s “elder statesman”, having been in power for nearly 40 years.

However, some leaders would oppose him, saying he has eaten for long at the top, and should let a younger leader, “new blood”, like Burundi President Évariste Ndayishimiye, or Kenya’s William Ruto, lead it. They will accuse him of scheming to install himself as the East African supreme leader, and clinging on to power until one of his grandchildren was ready to take over from him.

Museveni will push back, citing their inexperience. Some will demand that South Sudan President Salva Kiir pay all the arrears his country owes the EAC before it gets full rights in EAEUS. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi will push to exclude President Kagame from taking a seat until Rwanda stops its support for M23 rebels. President Kagame will tell him to go and swim with crocodiles in the Congo River.

Read: OBBO: DRC issue of beautiful wife, maize it planted by roadside

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will complain that the other leaders are disrespecting him because he is an EAC newbie, and until they change their attitude, he is staying in Mogadishu.

As they squabble, some groups might see an opportunity. Al Shabaab might reform, disavow violence, elect new moderate leaders and seek to ally with the regional integration activists as Ealuf-Horn of Africa.

In M23 allies with some of the 120 rebel groups and form Ealuf-Congo Basin. A bid by externally based Ugandan groups like a rump Lord’s Resistance Army emerging from the forests of the Central African Republic, and the Allied Democratic Forces in the eastern DRC is rejected, because they have failed to demonstrate good faith credentials.

Meanwhile, Ealuf is spreading like wildfire. Large numbers of Ealuf are reported to have hired boats near Entebbe in Uganda, and Mwanza in Tanzania sailing fast on Lake Victoria and converging on Kisumu, where local integrationist forces have mobilised and turned the city in a hotbed of East African unification. In DRC, bands are composing new songs praising the new people’s unification efforts. Young people are organising to link their hands along the half of the 770-kilometre Kenya-Tanzania.

All over East Africa, there are reports of high school boys and girls disappearing in large numbers to join Ealuf cadre training camps.

Traders are staging solidarity rallies and vowing to divert the taxes they pay to states to Ealuf, and stories of market women all over the region raising money and sending food to the heroic mobilisers are spreading far and wide.

International comrades from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia are arriving in large numbers in East Africa and joining. Word leaks that some of the EAC presidents are sending out feelers, seeking to meet with Ealuf to cut deals. There are rumours that they are paying some Ealuf leaders big money to defect. The hardliners in Ealuf reject the olive branches, and there is some division in the ranks and a witch hunt for the “traitors,” who are eating money from the presidents.

Ealuf recovers and marches on. EAEUS reaches out with an official offer to sit down and dialogue with Ealuf about the formation of an East African Amalgamation. Whether they stick together or get divided, the leaders lose. But Ealuf has only won the first round. This is not over by any means.

Charles Onyango-Obbo is a journalist, writer, and curator of the “Wall of Great Africans”. Twitter@cobbo3