, ARUSHA, Tanzania, Nov 21 – President Mwai Kibaki on Friday joined other four Heads of State in the signing of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Common Market.
President Kibaki together with Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi signed the protocol whose negotiation commenced in April 2008 and concluded in September this year.
The regional leaders were in Arusha attending the 11th Summit of Heads of State of the East African Community and which also coincided with the 10th Anniversary since the re-establishment of the regional body.
The Common Market which shall be managed in accordance with relevant laws of the East African Community provides for the free movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital.
The Common Market further provides for the right of establishment, the right of residence, free movement of services and free movement of capital within the region.
The overriding objective of the Common Market is to widen and deepen cooperation among the partner states in both economic and social fields for the benefit of citizens of the member states.
In this regard it is envisaged that the Common Market shall accelerate economic growth and development of the partner states through the attainment of free movement of goods, persons, labour, services and capital.
Under the protocol which is expected to become effective July 1, 2010, the partner states are obligated to guarantee free movement of persons who are citizens of other member states as well as to ensure non-discrimination of the citizens of the partner states.
East African nationals shall also enjoy the freedom to apply for employment, accept offers of employment and to move freely within territories of the partner states for the purpose of employment.
National governments shall, however, limit the free movement of persons on grounds of public policy, public security or public health but must appropriately notify partner states.
The five regional member states therefore committed to allowing entry of citizens of partner states without visa and to leave the territories without restrictions as well as being allowed to stay in the territory of partner states.
President Kibaki in his statement called on East African Community member countries to amend legislations that will give the region a uniform identity and create an impetus to the region\’s integration process.
"I urge all to amend legislations that consider East African citizens as different nationals so as to give effect to this spirit," noted the President.
The President noted that most residents of the region were in support of the federation of the East African countries and to particularly attain the desires of the regional inhabitants.
President Kibaki said, "There is need for us, therefore, to take the appropriate steps so as to achieve the desires of our people on political federation."
The Head of State affirmed that the common market would unlock many benefits among the East African citizens in addition to driving the integration process to the next of level of a monetary union.
He said, "The next stage of our integration is the Common Market. I am delighted to note that we are today going to make history by signing the Protocol that will usher in the Common Market for our East Africa region. The Common Market Protocol will be ratified after we sign it today."
President Kibaki commended the initiative of laying the ground for the next stage of the region\’s integration process of establishing the Monetary Union being spearheaded by the European Central Bank in collaboration with the East African Community Secretariat.
The Head of State observed, "This study will be useful in informing the process towards the Monetary Union so that by 2012 the East African regional integration will enter the third stage of the roadmap."
President Kibaki, however, asserted that there was need to establish new institutions and hire additional skilled personnel to be able to deliver services and outputs in line with the E.A.C. Treaty and further highlighted on the urgent need for additional funding for the Community institutions due to increased activities, projects and programmes.
During the summit President Kikwete of Tanzania assumed the position of EAC chairman from President Kagame of Rwanda.
In his acceptance remarks President Kikwete thanked the regional heads for appointing him the chairman and promised to execute his duties to the best of his abilities and particularly to fulfil the vision of the East Africans.
The Tanzanian leader further commended President Kagame of Rwanda for the able stewardship of the regional body during his tenure of office.
On his part President Kagame called on the regional heads to ratify the Common Market Protocol immediately to ensure it is implemented as scheduled from July 1, 2010.
The Rwanda President noted that the protocol was one of the successes during his chairmanship and promised to support the incoming chair so that the aspirations and interests of the region are attained.
The five Heads of State also laid the foundation stone for ultra modern head quarters of the East African Community in Arusha.
Later the five regional heads later addressed a mammoth rally at Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium in Arusha town as part of celebrations to mark the 10th Anniversary of the East African Community.