Peace, security talks top EAC intergration agenda

East African Community Heads of State. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • We should reduce dependence from outside to resolve our own conflicts

Arusha. Peace and security will now top the East African Community (EAC) integration agenda.

The Secretary General Peter Mathuki said here yesterday that the regional body will not waver on matters pertaining to security.

“There is no bargaining on peace especially now that talks of admitting Somalia as a new member are in advanced stages,” he said.

He told journalists following the relaunch of the Nyerere Centre for Peace Research here that regional leaders were committed to stability.

Dr Mathuki cited last weekend’s extra-ordinary summit of the EAC leaders on the bloody conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo as a case in point.

“The Burundi summit stressed the importance of peace and security not only in eastern DR Congo but throughout the region,” he pointed out.

Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Stergomena Tax said peace and security were prerequisites for development.

She said the newly relaunched facility should mitigate possible threats to stability in the region.

The Arusha regional Commissioner John Mongella launched the centre which seats within the EAC premises, on her behalf.

EAC officials said the facility was named after the Nation Founder Mwalimu Nyerere for his role in East African integration.

“Mwalimu was a true East African. He stood for a strengthened EAC,” Dr Mathuki said at the relaunching ceremony.

The centre was initially inaugurated in July 2007 at the same premises and operated for a couple of years.

However, for nearly a decade it has been inactive even as its building stood idly at the EAC compound.

The EAC boss said challenges that faced the facility necessitating its closure have been addressed and that it is back to business.

One of Nyerere’s sons, Charles Makongoro, and the nation founder’s former principal assistant Joseph Butiku attended the event.

“He was a good person and a family man who was passionate about freedom and democracy,” Makongoro said.

Mr Butiku, who served as Nyerere’s personal secretary for 21 years (1965-1985) said Mwalimu stood for peace, unity “and people-centred development.”

Ideally, the Nyerere Centre on Peace Research has been relaunched to address security challenges as well as seek appropriate mechanisms in conflict resolution.

Its revival followed an agreement signed recently between the EAC and the US-based Arcadia University.

The relaunch comes at a time when the region is grappling with a myriad of violent conflicts, including in the eastern DR Congo.

An official of the EAC secretariat told The Citizen that the timing of the relaunch of the centre was good.

“We need to have our own conflict resolution mechanisms. We should reduce dependence from outside to resolve our conflicts,” he said.

When it was originally inaugurated in 2007 with the support of donors the Nyerere Peace Research Centre was set up to become a centre of excellence in capacity building in peace, security and research. Not long ago, the EAC boss signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dr Jeff Rutenbeck, the Provost of Arcadia University to operationalize it.

Speaking during the relaunching ceremony, Prof Warren Haffar from Arcadia University said the centre was “an investment for the next generation”.

He said he was not surprised that the facility was named after Mwalimu Nyerere, Tanzania’s founding president.

“Nyerere was one of the most respected African leaders who promoted international peace,” he said.

In discharging its duties, the centre will benefit from operational partnership with the International Peace and Conflict Resolution programme at Arcadia University.

Besides peace and security matters, the Nyerere Centre will support the EAC in the development of policies that are relevant in regional integration.