EAC talks security as common market nears
David Muwanga (Busiweek)-- The third meeting of the East African Community (EAC) interstate security council have put in place mechanisms that will address insecurity related issues ahead of the implementation of the common market, which comes into force on 1 July 2010.
‘This meeting has come up with mechanisms to tighten security on the related risks that are coming into play as we start implementing the EAC common market protocol because it cannot be implemented without the region being stable and peaceful,’ said the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of political federation, Beatrice Kiraso.
The mechanisms include the formation of thematic groups that will handle the work of this wide sector. The groups include chiefs of police, chiefs of intelligence entities, prisons and correctional services, heads of disaster management and refugee management entities.
She said the security risks that will be borne as a result of implementing the common market include the trade in counterfeit goods, smuggling, diversion of trucks transporting fuel and motor vehicle thefts in the region among others. ‘The role of security services is paramount as the regional integration deepens,’ she told the East African Business Week in an interview on Friday at Hotel Club du Lac Tanganyika in Bujumbura, Burundi.
‘When we talk of free movement of all factors of production provided for in the common market protocol, we mean free movement of persons, goods, labour and capital and during this stage the role of detectives and intelligence services becomes extremely crucial,’’ Kiraso said.
She called on the inter-state security sectoral council to be more pro-active as the EAC enters the second phase of its integration process following the recent signing of the EAC common market protocol by the heads of partner states. The partner states are expected to ratify the common market protocol by end of this month.
‘Be part of the integration programme not only by responding when there is a crisis but foretell and forewarn us,’ she urged the delegates. She said the region should try to avoid management by crisis and develop its conflict prevention, management and resolution framework.
While addressing directors of criminal investigations and the registrars of motor vehicles recently in Arusha, Tanzania, she urged them to harmonise their policies and programmes to make East Africa free from crimes and other illegal activities, including illicit drugs and human trafficking.
‘This region has become a convenient transit route for drugs and drugs abuse seems to be on the rise. Our youths should not be part of the destruction otherwise we will have no future generations to push forward our development agenda,’ Kiraso said. ‘And yet they are an easy target because of unemployment and lack of income.’
She informed them that the EAC secretariat was preparing a comprehensive regional conflict prevention, management and resolution (CPMR) framework and early warning mechanism to avoid responding to conflicts in an ad-hoc manner, usually only after conflicts have already erupted and on an individual country approach.
The delegates reviewed a report on the ratification and implementation status of the protocol on combating drug trafficking in the EAC region and discussed the report on the status of narcotic trafficking between May 2009 and March 2010 in the partner states, among others.
The Burundi meeting reviewed progress on the EAC peace and security protocol, the EAC early warning mechanism. On Saturday 1/5/2010 there was a destruction of weapons as one of the activities to mark the African Union year of peace in Bujumbura presided over by the country’s President Pierre Nkurunziza among other delegates. The EAC programme on small arms and light weapons has seen destruction of more than 10,000 weapons in the five countries.
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