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Where is the next EAC chief from?

Tuesday February 23 2021
eac pic

The current Secretary General of the East African Community, Liberat Mfumukeko

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. From which country will the next secretary general of the East African Community (EAC) come from this time round?

This is the proverbial 64 thousand dollar question as the regional organization braces for its 21st Ordinary Summit on Saturday.

The virtual summit of the Heads of State is expected to announce the new EAC boss to replace Liberat Mfumukeko whose tenure ends in April.

Officials of the EAC Secretariat confirmed to The Citizen yesterday that indeed the Summit will now take place after several postponements.

Among the key issues on the agenda will be the appointment of the new secretary general for the six-nation regional body based in Arusha.

The draft agenda seen by The Citizen indicated the summit will decide “on the next partner state to provide a secretary general”.

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Ideally, the position is held on a rotational basis and should the principle hold, then South Sudan will produce the candidate.

The newest member of the bloc, which joined EAC in 2016, has yet to produce the principal executive officer of the Community.

The EAC secretary general is not only the principal executive but also the accounting officer of the Community and serves for a five-year fixed term.

However, sources close to the EAC headquarters intimated that Kenya - and not South Sudan - was likely to nominate the next candidate for the post.

“Consensus has been building up for months to have Kenya to nominate somebody for the position,” a senior executive whispered.

He added that Juba has not been fully integrated into the EAC and that the country still has its internal challenges.

He added: “South Sudan is not yet part of the EAC Customs Union and Common Market placing it on the periphery of the integration efforts”.

In addition, Juba’s nationals have not been fully absorbed in the staff ranks of the EAC organs and institutions compared to those from five other partners.

The country’s presence in the EAC is so far confined to its nine members to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).

It also has one judge to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the judicial organ of the Community.

Other officials intimated Juba was not being intimidated on the matter and that it was likely to agree to wait for another turn to have its national on the list.

Kenya’s interest in the post is that it produced the first CEO for the EAC (1996-2001) and that it would have been its turn had the EAC members remained five.

But Kenyans insisted that during the tenure of Francis Muthaura as the EAC boss he was for four years, out of his five-year tenure, the executive secretary and not the SG.

EAC was transformed to its current status in 2000 from a loose Commission of Cooperation after the signing and enforcement of the EAC Treaty.

Besides Ambassador Muthaura, other EAC secretary generals were Amanya Mushega from Uganda (2001-2006) and Tanzania’s Juma Mwapachu (2006-2011).

Others were Richard Sezibera from Rwanda (2011-2016) before Ambassador Mfumukeko, a Burundi national, took the mantle from 2016.

The current SG’s tenure ends on April 25, exactly five years when he started serving as the principal executive officer of the EAC.

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