Court holds EAC integration fateBy MUTHOKI MUMO | Wednesday, July 18 2012 at 10:58
A Tanzania journalist has moved to court seeking to stop the integration process currently being carried out by the East African Community secretariat claiming that the process is based on an illegality.
Mr Timothy Kahoho wants the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) to restrain integration activities currently being carried out by the regional body’s secretariat.
He argues that the secretariat has usurped powers that should ideally belong to the council of ministers — a panel composed of EAC ministers and attorneys-general in the partner states — in developing a draft structure for the planned political federation.
“Mr Kahoho argued… that his application is in the interest of all citizens of East Africa, who, he asserted, stand to benefit from adherence to treaty provisions by the summit, the council and the partner states,” reads a statement from the community.
The case, filed at the Arusha-based East African regional court, will be determined on Thursday with the risk of pulling back the integration process by over 10 months.
The scribe says the secretariat has further gone beyond its mandate by developing a road map to strengthen institutions concerned with the common market, customs union and monetary union.
A private citizen
Last November EAC’s supreme authority, the Summit of Heads of State, directed the secretariat to perform these duties following a meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi. But Article 123 (6) of the treaty for the establishment of the community states that the summit may only initiate the political federation through the Council of Ministers.
“The secretariat is an administrative body. It cannot negotiate the political federation. It has no mandate to conduct political negotiations among the partner states,” said East Africa Law Society deputy president, Mr James Mwamu.
Mr Kahoho argues that in issuing the directive, EAC Presidents contravened the fundamental principles of political inclusion outlined in Article 6 and 7 of the treaty.
EAC secretariat is urging the court to dismiss the case on the grounds that Mr Kahoho has not provided enough evidence to support his claim.
Further, the activities have already been funded and are in progress. The secretariat claims that it will bring in the council of ministers into the process.
The case will set a legal precedent in the community as this is the first time that a private citizen has challenged a decision made by the Heads of State.
If the case is decided in Mr Kahoho’s favour, it will only be the latest wrench in an integration process that has been troubled by bureaucratic delays.
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