, ARUSHA, Tanzania, Apr 28 – President Mwai Kibaki has called for negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan aimed at resolving the emerging conflict between the two countries.
Speaking in Arusha where he chaired the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the East African Community, President Kibaki said a “return to war must not be an option” and called upon the warring parties to return to the negotiation table.
“We appeal to the two parties to return to the negotiation table to resolve the emerging contentious issues. We also call upon the leaders of Somalia, led by the Transitional Federal Government to decisively put an end to the conflict in their country and embark on the journey towards peace and nation building,” said President Kibaki.
Saying that the East African Community should guard against external factors and threats that may impinge on the region’s peace, security and development objectives, the president called upon EAC member states to give premium to the region’s peace and security.
Said the President: “We need to address the longstanding state of insecurity in Somalia as well as the re-emerging conflict between Sudan and South Sudan as a matter of urgency. As a Community we seek the peaceful co-existence among all our neighbours.”
Noting that the major item on the Summit agenda was the proposal to establish a Single Customs Territory in order to further improve the market efficiencies, President Kibaki underscored the need for the establishment of a Regional Customs Management Authority.
Said the president: “We recognize that ultimately the success of the Customs Union will hinge on the establishment of a comprehensive Regional Customs Management Authority, to oversee its effective operations. We urge the Council of Ministers to move quickly and give this dream the required effort.”
On the integration process, the president noted that strategic measures to deepen the integration of the East African region had been intensified. Among these measures, the president hailed the establishment of a mechanism for systematic reporting and review of the operations of the Customs Union and Common Market Protocols.
This, noted the president, involves the management of non-tariff barriers and other issues of compliance with the provisions of protocols and other commitments under the regional programme.
Expressing satisfaction that EAC Member States have agreed on a program for the elimination of non-tariff barriers in the East African region, the president called on all those responsible to meet their obligations as agreed.
The president also applauded the decision by Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda to allow the use of National Identity Cards as travel documents within the region. “I look forward to the speedy implementation of this decision.”
Saying that the decision would facilitate mobility within the region, the president called for additional measures to further improve the movement of persons and goods within the region.
Said the president: “It is very important that the Council of Ministers speedily embarks on ensuring international recognition of the East African Passport, institute a Single Visa Regime for East Africa, especially for tourists coming to our region, and work with speed to domesticate and liberalize East Africa’s airspace.”
Regarding infrastructure, President Kibaki said that while good progress had been made in addressing the infrastructure deficit affecting the East African region, a lot more remains to be done.
“In particular,” said the president, “collective energy generation, transmission and sharing are critical for the East African Industrial Policy and Strategy. Rail transport also needs to be given priority as we cannot continue moving 95 per cent of our people and goods by road.”
“Additionally,” added the president “expanding our existing ports and developing new ones is necessary in order for us to improve our capacity to handle increased regional trade.”