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Kenya urged to go for EAC top post

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – As debate rages over whether the next East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary General should come from Rwanda or Kenya, a section of trade experts has advised the government to nominate a candidate for the post.

Former Trade Minister Mukhisa Kituyi said Kenya has not produced a Secretary General for the regional bloc since the ratification of Treaty establishing it and as such should be free to field a nominee.

“Maturity in international relations is to offer candidates at every opportunity for one of your own to get in office. If you get, very good; if you don’t, you pick up your pieces and move on. The Kenya government should go ahead a field a candidate and see how democratically it works out between Kenya and Rwanda on who occupies that position,” he argued.

Rwanda has contested reports that the next person to head the EAC should come from Kenya arguing that by so doing Kenya would be disrespecting the treaty’s provision of the principal of equitability which provides for the rotational appointment of its leadership.

Rwanda has also been irked by suggestions that as a new entrant to the EAC having come on board in 2007, it is not well acquainted with the integration process and should therefore not hold the position.

“Rwanda is technically and politically ready to provide a candidate for the position of SG. In accordance with the principle of rotation, it would now be the turn of either Rwanda or Burundi to provide a candidate. This clarifies any speculation as to which country should provide a candidate for the position,” said the country’s Rwandan EAC Minister Monique Mukaruliza in a paid up advertisement.

Those supporting Rwanda’s position argue that Kenya has already produced an SG and as such is not qualified to propose one until 2031.

Francis Muthaura who’s the current Head of Civil Service held the position from March 1996 to March 2001 at a time when representatives from the region were trying to develop strategies to revive the bloc.

However speaking to Capital Business, Mr Kituyi said this argument does not hold water since Mr Muthaura’s service as the EAC first Secretary-General was only in an interim basis.

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“The moment the East African Community effectively came into force was at the end of four years of that interim period. So he (Muthaura) served as Secretary General for one year. That is a transitional position and therefore substantively the first SG was from Uganda (2001-2006),” he added.

The second and current Secretary General is Tanzania\’s Amb Juma Mwapachu whose five year term ends in April this year.

According to Article 67 of the EAC Treaty and which was came into effect in July 2000 after being ratified by the three original member states (Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania), the Summit has the prerogative to appoint the Secretary General upon nomination by the relevant Head of State.

Asked whether this post should be elective with the foresight that the membership is expected to expand, Mr Kituyi gave an emphatic no.

“No, no, no. A Secretary General for the EAC is a very powerful position. In the new constitutional order, it is more powerful than any minister in the Kenyan government. You cannot have a candidate for such a position being a self-presented candidate like you are seeking an election. You must only consider state candidates,” he argued.

The candidate should also be one who respects the values, aspirations of not just his country but of the Community as well.

Kenya’s EAC Permanent Secretary David Nalo concurred arguing that the Secretary General has the support of the four deputies Secretary Generals from the region as well as the Heads of State.

Terming the debate as ‘awkward’, Mr Nalo expressed confidence that these differences of opinions would not affect the workings of the EAC nor the integration process.

“I don’t think that the Summit would make a decision that would not be good for the community. I am not worried about the outcome because the Community is much bigger than an individual,” the PS added.

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