- The East African Community (EAC) at a Bujumbura meeting of the region's security ministers has reached the conclusion that peace and security issues must form a natural part of the economic and customs union. The ministers witnessed a public destruction of illicit arms in Burundi.
Beatrice Kiraso is the Deputy Secretary General of the EAC in charge of "political federation", and coordinated the meeting in the Burundian capital. Her agenda was to put peace and security issues higher on the East African union's agenda, pleading for regional cooperation to consolidate peace and stability to secure economic integration.
Ms Kiraso said that the region's stability must remain intact as the integration process continues to deepen. "Instability in one country means instability for others. We should not allow this as it will undermine our integration efforts,'' she stressed when addressing the Inter-State Security Ministerial Council Meeting in Bujumbura.
She emphasised that peace and security issues were an integral part of the two pillars of the integration process that had been "successfully negotiated and concluded" - the two pillars being the East African customs union and common market.
The EAC meeting noted the need for the inter-state security sector to take interest in the negotiations on the third phase of integration - East Africa's planned monetary union - and to include a "mechanism for combating counterfeits, money laundering, cyber-crime, piracy and smuggling of goods which denies the region the much needed revenue."
Ms Kiraso saluted Burundi for moving on the right course after years of conflict and destruction. "Burundi is on the right path to recovery,'' she told the delegates amid applause. Burundi is expected to hold its general elections starting 21 May. Rwanda and Tanzania will hold elections in August and October respectively.
At the conclusion of the Bujumbura meeting, the EAC carried out a public destruction of illicit arms; an event to mark the African Union (AU) Year of Peace. The destruction exercise was presided over by the Vice-President of Burundi, Yves Sahinguvu.
More than 10,000 weapons have been destroyed in the five EAC partner states over the last years through the Community's programme on small arms and light weapons, which is said to be "a continuous process."
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