As the plan to actualize the eagerly-awaited East African Confederation shifts into overdrive, Kenya has handed in its proposals on the structure and purpose of the political union.
The country is hankering for enhanced security and safety in the member states at both the personal and national levels for successful political and socio-economic integration that the countries are pursuing.
The Ministry of Interior and National Administration has submitted a list of key priority areas for consideration in the drafting of the Constitution for the confederation, urging the Committee of Experts overseeing the exercise to incorporate binding obligations for peace-building and strengthening of internal security in partner states.
During a national consultative forum on the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the confederation, Principal Secretary Dr. Raymond Omollo told the team that there is urgent need for a structured framework of resolving conflicts, particularly between border communities.
Referencing Kenya’s recent engagement with Uganda over the Turkana and Pokot cross-border communal clashes, the PS appealed for more collaborative solutions through sensitization campaigns and negotiations that will promote harmonious sharing of pastoral resources.
“We recently had an engagement with our counterparts from Uganda, to where our communities are crossing over, whether it’s because of drought when they’re looking for resources to support their livelihoods. And we continue to have these engagements,” Dr. Omollo noted.
He further highlighted the land boundary disputes between the EAC member states, the PS called for more formalized responses and expressed optimism that the confederation will provide clarity on the management of such differences.
Even as the neighbours work on shared prosperity through enhanced cross-border cooperation, Dr. Omollo suggested the elevation of bilateral interventions.
The PS, who was representing Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, reiterated that many of the conflicts are resource-based and proposed “countryto-country” engagements.
He said: “If you look at our individual states, we have situations where the boundaries are not very clear or contested. And for me, that will be one of the things that would want to find a way of sorting out even as we go into the confederation. In spaces where there are those contests, we need to encourage joint engagements.”
With the member states mooting common foreign and security policies, Dr. Omollo made a case for mutual consensus and a unanimous EAC position at international fora to foster unity and amplify their collective influence in the best interest of the region.
The PS also emphasized the need for honest promotion of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms must form the foundational stones upon which a just and equitable East African society shall be built.
He singled out the existing jurisdictional limits in law enforcement, which have rendered policing around the borders rather subjective, which necessitates a robust and civilian-centred regime and progressive enlightenment on respect for the rule of law.
“Even the ability for us to make the citizens know what they’re getting into, in terms of information is very important. But also, when we go and look at the space of where we’re looking for respect for human rights and the rule of law, people need to know what the law is so that they are aware of the consequences,” he stated.
The proposed political union will bring together the seven sovereign states of the East African Community, a move the PS relayed Kenya’s hope that it will promote solidarity and strengthen the political and governance institutions of the member states.