Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Key determinant to the existence of East African Community (EAC)

Migingo Island within the shores of Lake Victoria
I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Perhaps I should mourn. I am mourning  because of the way Kenyans’ have approached the issue of  border dispute that lies within the Kenya  - Uganda islands or rather the so called Migingo & Ugingo islands. Lately ,we have been treated to the theatre of government confusion, opinion polls and even to the extent of the wiki leaks cables on the view on how the presidency handled or should handle the dispute between the two “rocks”. To say the least, I am upset  by the way most Kenyans have approached the matter. Some calling for military enforcements from both states while others for economic sanctions. The issue of regional dispute should be given a broad approach don’t  you think so ? Thus, Is Migingo and Ugingo islands a key determinant for the existence  East African Community ?
The East African Community is an intergovernmental organization comprising the five East Africa countries Kenya,Burundi,Rwanda Tanzania and Uganda. The East African Community was originally founded in 1967 but collapsed in 1977 and again revived in July 2000. The key factors that led to the formation and collapse of the East Africa Community was driven by both political, Economic and social – cultural dimensions so to say. But  have we learnt any lessons from the past experiences ? Then we should focus on the new EAC objectives considering the need to consolidate regional cooperation particularly on matters related to defence,security,economic and conflict resolutions.
The journey towards regional integration should be travelled step by step in order to avoid past mistakes. We should be vigilant in strengthening the EAC using the collapse of former community and the lessons should  be analyzed keenly to avoid a repeat at all costs. Thus, historical lessons should be taken to consideration in order to strengthen the existence of the EAC and the spirit to cohesion that leds to a unison development within the regional states.
From Left to right.Yoweri Museveni,Mwai Kibaki,
Paul Kagame,Jakaya Kikwete,Pierre Nkurunzinza.
The history behind the collapse of the first EAC in 1977 with the current dispute between the islands, there exist some correlation that should not be ignored at all costs. The events in Uganda in 1971 should not be left intact  as a key determinant of why we should consider a diplomatic approach towards the two “rocks”. In 1977,Obote the then president of Uganda was overruled  and Uganda established a military regime under a de facto system of government. Which was characterized by human rights violation and importunity of Uganda threatening territory expansion into Kenya and Tanzania under Idi Amin. By then, Nyerere did not want to sit with Idi Amin in any table meeting. The result of this was for about seven years the East African Community never had any meetings, by this it was increasively clear the East African Community was irrelevant. The spirit of non-interference of other independent countries was realized when Nyerere felt it was the duty of the East African Community to stop the atrocities within the region more so in Uganda. While president Kenyatta of Kenya felt  that he will maintain the spirit of non interference of other states affairs. In 1977 the spirit of East African Community died completely with the invasion of Uganda by Tanzanian forces which contained the tension and led to the collapse of the East African Community. The acrimony with which the East African Community collapsed lead to the eventual closure of the Kenya and Tanzania border. The catastrophe unfolding within these events should be a key determinant of why the security forces or military intervention should be the last option in any regional dispute more so within this period when we are trying to revive the spirit of East African community integration.
In my view, such historical approach should guide us in the spirit of avoiding military approach toward dispute resolutions that can create tension between regional states. Other than diplomatic approach as an instrument of creating cohesion between the two regions and throughout other regional members . Instruments of military and economic approaches should not be within any table meetings in the view of resolving dispute between the two  islands.Therefore,as we try to revive the East African Community,the spirit of good neighbourliness should be the guiding principle towards foreign policy relations. Failure to which, then we should also forget about the existence of the East African Community.

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