Sunday, September 16, 2007

Uganda seeks political union of the East African Community over Tanzania's objections.

SOURCE: The Monitor (Kampala, Uganda)--"East Africa: Uganda, Kenya Plot Against Tanzania"

Last month, at an extraordinary summit (i.e., a meeting other than a regularly scheduled meeting, such as an annual meeting) of the East African Community (EAC), the possibility of a “fast-tracked” political union of member countries in advance of economic integration was tabled due in large part to the objections of Tanzania.

The EAC is comprised of the African nations of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. Of these nations, Kenya has the largest economy and Uganda may not be far behind as a result of the recent discovery of rich oil reserves in its Albertine region.

While the majority of Ugandans and Kenyans favor fast-tracked political integration, more Tanzanians support political and economic integration of the region to occur on the same timetable. Reports indicate that Tanzania’s reluctance stems from uncertainty regarding the intentions of Uganda’s President Museveni and discomfort with the fact that he has cajoled his nation’s government into changing its Constitution in order to allow him to remain in power longer. This move brought criticism from many nations, including Tanzania, which strictly observes term limits.

Nonetheless, reports claim that President Musaveni has sent emissaries to Kenya to urge President Kibaki to join a fast-tracked political federation over Tanzania’s objections.

FOR DISCUSSION:

The plan supported by President Musaveni of Uganda would involve the initial “leapfrogging” of such elements of economic integration as a common market and common monetary unit.

Do you think it is wise to engage in political integration prior to economic integration? Is it possible?

Will failing to raise and specifically address economic issues in the beginning result in the creation of a difficult to change status quo that benefits the richer members (Kenya and Uganda)?

Is Tanzania justified in its concern over President Musaveni’s success in changing the Ugandan Constitution in order to allow him to continue as the nation’s leader?

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