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EAC SUMMIT: Museveni promises to resolve EPA disagreement

Magufuli had the chair to Museveni. Right is Kenya’s VP Ruto who represented Uhuru Kenyatta

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has taken over chairmanship of the  East African Community (EAC) from Tanzania’s  John Pole Magufuli with a promise to harmonize the region’s vision on the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA)

“I failed to find a solution for EAC EU trade deal but I am optimistic President Museveni will do,” Magufuli admitted at the  18th Ordinary EAC Heads of State Summit Saturday in Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi have raised concerns about the possible negative impact of the trade deal between the European Union and East African nations, stalling its implementation. (see proposed agreement and EAC Communique bottom)

Museveni said any agreement will  only be reached with all members of the EAC on board, and not a few countries. He explained there is no way the EAC can move forward until the issue of sanctions on Burundi, among others, is resolved.

“Burundi is member of the EAC. How can they sign EPA with EU when they are still under sanctions?” he asked as he emphasized the European Union should negotiate the trade deal with EAC and not a single member state.

Museveni promised to find a solution, saying “I have been officially mandated to harmonize the vision about this issue of EPA within the EAC Country States.”

He has been asked to travel to Brussels to meet the EU and explain the EAC stand in the next one month, and have the issue resolved in six months.

In their communique, the leaders said that “Heads of State noted that the remaining members that have not signed the EU-EAC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) are not in a position to do so pending clarification of issues they have identified in the agreement.”

The communique added that “It was however agreed that due to this action Kenya should not be disadvantaged since she has already signed the agreement. In view of this decision, the President of the Republic of Uganda as the new chair of the summit, was mandated within one month to reach out to the European Union (EU) to communicate the EAC circumstances.”

According to the communique, “in the event that an acceptable way forward is not reached with the EU within the next six months, the chairperson was authorised to explore the use of variable geometry in implementation of the EPA by EAC member states working with the council of ministers. The summit also agreed that the EU  sanctions on Burundi should be discussed alongside the EPA discussions.”

Proposed Economic Partnership Agreement EU and EAC by The Independent Magazine on Scribd

The Dar summit confirmed Eng. Steven Mlote from Tanzania as Deputy Secretary General and announced they will send observer teams to the elections in Kenya and Rwanda.

The summit also declared the transformation of the EAC into a Common Higher Education Area with a common syllabus and also presented awards to the winners of the EAC Students Essay competition 2016 with Burundi coming top. Burundi scored 83%, Uganda 82%, Kenya 78%,Tanzania 75%, Rwanda 70%.

JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ: 18TH ORDINARY SUMMIT OF HEADS OF STATE OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY by The Independent Magazine on Scribd

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