Arusha. The East African Community (EAC) partner states were yesterday urged to join hands in fighting terrorism.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda who took over as the new chair said terrorism was an emerging challenge in the region that must be tamed using all means.
“We have to work together to fight terrorism,” he said in his address to the 20th summit of the regional body at the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC).
Outgoing chairman Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni decried the high cost of doing business between partner states, particularly transportation hurdles.
The summit sought to tackle key issues amongst the member states with priority given to resolution of long outstanding non-tariff barriers.
The Rwandan leader praised Kenya for its gallant efforts to tame the ugly face of terrorism following recent attacks by the Somalia based Al Shabaab militants.
Remarks by President Kagame on the security concerns in the region came only a day after the matter was raised during the opening of the new offices of the East African Business Council (EABC) in Arusha.
During the event on Thursday, business officials from the region stressed that guarantees of security were pertinent in doing business.
Kenya had been under deadly terrorist attacks, the last one as late as last month at the luxury Dusit D2 hotel in Nairobi which claimed 21 lives.
President Kagame’s warning on potential terror attacks yesterday came as the EAC leaders decided to once again hold on the entry of Somalia into the bloc.
The six EAC states were represented at the summit by President John Magufuli, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Burundi first vice president Gaston Sindimo and South Sudan trade minister Paul Aketch
The war-wracked Somalia in the Horn of Africa country applied to join the Community in early 2013.
Ever since the EAC has insisted it was yet to send a verification team there to assess the country’s level of preparedness.
However, regional analysts contend that Somalia’s delay to join the bloc could have been due to it being a haven of terrorists.
Reading the communiqué at the end of the summit late yesterday the EAC secretary general Liberat Mfumukeko said Somalia’s application to join the bloc would be considered later.
The regional leaders also warned against member states defaulting on the budget obligations to run the joint projects and programmes.
However, they did not give any hint on an action against countries delaying remitting money to the EAC coffers in Arusha.
Yesterday’s summit came a relief to advocates of regional integration as the two previous ones slated for November 30th and December 27th last year were cancelled.
Absentee leaders were President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Salva Kiir of South Sudan but were represented to the joy of the EAC officials.