East African Community

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1 1 East African Community STATEMENT BY AMB. DR. RICHARD SEZIBERA, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING CEREMONY OF THE 6 TH EAC MILITARY GAMES AND CULTURAL EVENTS ON 7 TH AUGUST 2013 IN NAIROBI, KENYA, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya; Chairperson, EAC Council of Ministers; Honourable Ministers of Defence; Members of the East African Legislative Assembly and Members of Kenya National Assembly; Chiefs of the Defence Forces; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; The Service Commanders and General Officers; Defense Liaison Officers; Members of the Armed Forces Contingents of the EAC Partner States; Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen Let me first of all,, express our appreciation for your presence on this occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the 6 th EAC Military Games and Cultural Events being held in this magnificent stadium of Nairobi.

2 2 On behalf of the East African Community, I wish to thank you, the Government and People of Kenya for the warm hospitality and excellent facilities that have been put at the disposal of our Defence Forces to stage these Games and Cultural Activities. I wish to extend the condolences of the East African Community to the Government and people of the Republic of Kenya for the fire outbreak at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. This is not merely a Kenyan tragedy. It is an East African Tragedy because this Airport is in many ways, the entry and exit point into East Africa. I thank you your Excellency for your leadership during this crisis. We meet here today as the East African Community integration process gathers great momentum and, indeed, reaches a higher and critical stage. The encouraging progress of the East African Customs Union, the enlargement of the Community, with the admission of Rwanda and Burundi; the ongoing implementation of the East African Common Market as well as the conclusion of the negotiations of the Protocol establishing the East African Monetary Union, and the deeper sensitization being undertaken to bring the East African citizens on board the East African Federation, underscore serious determination of the East African people and leadership to construct a powerful East African economic and political bloc. Now that Ministerial negotiations on a Monetary Union are concluded, I look forward to speedy conclusion on technical negotiations on the operationalization of a Single Customs Territory. I am encouraged that a number of our Partner States have made the decision to fast track implementation of EAC projects and programs. Kenya s decision to remove roadblocks and rationalize the use of weigh bridges is an example of this renewed determination. I travelled to this event by road from Arusha, and I can confirm to you your Excellency, that I did not meet a single roadblock. I look forward to speedy changes to cabotage laws and regulations to allow East African registered trucks to carry cargo within the region. The current restrictive legal regime limits the free movement of goods and increases the cost of doing business, especially for the hinterland countries.

3 3 The private sector should now take advantage of this momentum in the reduction of Non Tariff Barriers to trade to boost their contribution to the economic growth of East Africans. The East African Community Military Games and Cultural Events you are about to launch are conducted annually on rotational basis in accordance with Article II of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Defence in the East African Community and in line with the decisions of the Sectoral Council on Cooperation in Defence. Under this Memorandum of Understanding, the EAC Partner States pursue an elaborate programme of activities of confidence building among the Defence Forces. These activities include; Joint Operations, Technical Assistance, Visits and Exchange of Information, Cultural Exchanges and Sports Competitions to enhance a spirit of comradeship between the Armed Forces. The first EAC Military Games and Cultural Events was held in the Republic of Uganda in 2005, the second was in the Republic of Kenya in 2006, the third in the United Republic of Tanzania in 2007, the fourth in the Republic of Rwanda in 2009, the fifth was in the Republic of Burundi in 2011 and this year 2013, the Event has rotated back to the Republic of Kenya. The organization of the events has improved with every year and has elevated the Military Games and Cultural activities to a high profile. All the Cultural Events are organized and funded by the EAC Partner States Governments with the host nations directly meeting the overall costs of the Events. The realization of a larger regional economic bloc comprising of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda with a combined population of over 135 million and a land area of 1.85 million sq kilometres with a combined GDP of about $84 billion and GDP per capita of $732, bears great strategic and geopolitical significance imposing on the EAC Partner States enormous responsibility for Regional Defence and Security. We know that peace and security are the prerequisites for social and economic development. With the evolving security challenges as a result of international terrorism, piracy and instability the world over, issues of defence and security must continue to be given the importance they

4 4 deserve in the agenda of nations and indeed the agenda of groupings of nations such as the East African Community. Our Region knows the consequences of Insecurity only too well. We have been the victims of Genocidal groups as well as Trans-national terror networks operating in our neighbourhoods. I salute the determination of Partner States of the Community to deal with these threats. The Defence and Security Policy of the Community is based on the understanding that, so long as the countries of the region are co-operating among themselves in pursuit of human and economic development, they will have neither reason nor cause to resort to violent conflict among themselves. Thus, enshrined in the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community are the Fundamental Principles of Peace, Security and Good Neighbourliness. The EAC Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Defence Matters, which has now been upgraded into a Protocol awaiting ratification by the Partner States, lays emphasis on unity, peace, stability and strength to defend our common interests. Indeed, the strategic vision for a common security future is best guaranteed by the moulding of an East African Soldier and a Unified Territorial Defence System. The EAC Partner States therefore are committed to establish wider areas of peace and security beyond the confines of their own borders. Indeed, our Community is well focused on the development and maintenance of peace and security within the broader region. In its wider vision, the Community embraces the ultimate establishment of a Political Federation of the East African States. The main challenge is to solidify and strengthen the EAC model for regional peace and security and activate it within the broader context of the eventual realization of the proposed African Economic and Political Union. It is in this context that the EAC Games and Cultural activities have great significance beyond building confidence among the defence forces of EAC Partner States. It bears a great symbolic significance having regard to the broader goals and vision of a competitive, prosperous and united East Africa.

5 5 Finally,, the EAC Co-operation in Defence offers great scope and prospects for the consolidation of East African regional integration and development process. It emphasizes that we need unity, peace, stability and strength to defend our common interests. The EAC Games and Cultural Events are always held in public stadiums with a purpose. When our common citizens watch these Events and perceive that our defence forces are working together and engage in friendly activities that project mutual trust and confidence, they inevitably garner higher levels of confidence in the East African Community project at both economic and political dimensions. The presence of the Chiefs of the Defence Forces, the Service Commanders, General Officers; Defense Liaison Officers; and Members of the Armed Forces Contingents of the EAC Partner States, as well as the ordinary citizens (Wanaichi) demonstrates that the vision of our founding fathers of One People, One Destiny can and will be achieved. Our gallant men and women in Uniform bear a historic responsibility to safeguard the achievements of East African and indeed African Integration. They deserve all our respect and support. I wish to thank the Republic of Kenya, the Kenya Defence Forces, the Ministers of Defence and Chiefs of Defence Forces, and the Defence Liaison Officers at the EAC Secretariat for the hard work they put in the Organization of these games. I know that at the end, some will walk away with trophies of victory. I congratulate them in advance but would like to say that even before we begin, we are all winners, for strengthening and consolidating the esprit de Corps among us, critical for the Defense of the aspirations of the people of East Africa. I thank you for your kind attention. EAC Secretariat Arusha, Tanzania 7 th August 2013

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