Regional Council of Ministers accused of integration failure – KT PRESS

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has blamed its Council of Ministers for delaying the ratification of regional protocols meant to accelerate and enable citizens to benefit from the community integration process that began in July 2000.

The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organization of 7 partner states: Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania, headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania.

A committee report on the assessment of the status of ratification and implementation of EAC protocols and laws by partner states presented during the 1st meeting of the 5th session of the 4th assembly meeting in Kigali this October 31, 2022 showed that there was a slow ratification despite the agreement of the respective executives after negotiating them in the first place.

Of the 22 protocols that needed to be ratified to take a step forward in the EAC integration process, only six remain and could hamper the expected progress.

The 6 protocols are: Protocol on Immunities and Privileges (2015); Cooperation in meteorological services (2016); Sanitary and phytosanitary measures 2013; Information, Communications and Technology (2015); Extended Jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice (2015); Foreign Policy Coordination (2010) “The protocols are essential for the implementation of the EAC integration agenda, but the legal frameworks at the national level have not been ratified at the national level since their signing,” said MP Kennedy Mukulia Ayason (South Sudan), the President on legal rules and privileges.

Ayason said Tanzania is lagging behind with three unsigned protocols and among other member states, Burundi, Uganda, DRC and South Sudan, they have at least one protocol to ratify. Rwanda has one (sanitary and phytosanitary measures) which is partially worked on.

Ayason said these delays are due to the fact that some countries have problems with bureaucracy in the ratification process, but also problems with different laws in partner states, poor national consultation even when protocols have been adopted by councils. .

The committee said the delay of some protocols is having a negative impact on the community as a whole.

For example, the absence of sanitary and phytosanitary measures will not allow the EAC to have consumable food standards to avoid aflatoxins, while the unified ICT laws will affect digital transformation.

In other areas, the lack of foreign policy coordination could limit the chances of citizens in places where they do not have an embassy to obtain advisory services from other EAC embassies.

Introducing the statute, the committee recommended the immediate ratification of all pending protocols to pave the way for the next stages of the integration pillars of the EAC which is currently in the third phase of the Monetary Union after the Customs and Customs pillars. of the common market.

EALA Chair Martin Ngoga (Rwanda) questioned why member states are sitting on protocols they have already agreed and negotiated at executive level and called for immediate action if the EAC is to move to the fourth pillar of integration (Political Federation).

The 4th Session of the Assembly also addressed the issue of the absence of the amendment to Article 24 (2) of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Customs Union – which allows the community to set up a committee to deal with traders’ complaints but none of the countries have done so.

The assembly also expressed concern over the implementation of the EAC Vehicle Load Control Act 2016 which has also been violated by member countries and some countries like Tanzania have put in place weighbridges without the consent of the Council, as required by law.

The session reported that failure to comply with this law has also seen heavy load drivers complain of being fined twice for using “abnormal” (wide load) vehicles and charged with overloading in some countries, creating confusion between the two fines that are not in their country of origin.

Elna M. Lemons