EDITORIAL: EAC stability rests upon acting timely on threats

Saturday December 7 2019

The escalating tension between Burundi and Rwanda is a matter that the East African Community must take seriously.

The case of the two countries has presented the EAC - and even the African Union (AU) - with yet another excruciating test of relevance and credibility.

After all, defusing tensions, ensuring security and ending fears among citizens of the economic bloc are major reasons why the regional community exists.

The deadly attack on the Burundi army last month near the Rwanda boarder in which eight Burundian soldiers were killed in the ambush has heightened tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

Burundi accused Rwanda of armed aggression, and has filed a complaint against the latter with the EAC, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations.

Kigali has categorically denied involvement in the attacks. We feel it is high time for the regional authority to intervene and ease tensions before the situation gets out of hand.

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Failure to end the tensions between the two EAC countries will adversely affect trade and security, in the region.

Besides, credibility of the EAC rests on its ability to intervene timely and effectively sort out differences among the member states.

The recent political standoff between Rwanda and Uganda that had the two countries accusing each other of espionage, political killings and trade barriers is a vivid example of the regional bloc’s inadequacy at responding to inimical threats.

EAC intervention came at a time when both countries were already counting losses following deaths - and, later, closure of the border between the two countries in February.

The border closure adversely impacted cross-border trade between the two countries. We urge the EAC to promptly respond to major social, political, economic and security threats in the region if it is to claim its relevance and legitimacy among the peoples of the region.