Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has appealed to lawmakers from the East African sub-region to reach out to people and enlighten them on the benefits of integration, while his visiting Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete expressed support for the integration.
The new East African partnership should be people-centered and people-driven, and called on lawmakers to work closely with people in an effort to eradicate false perceptions, unfounded fears and suspicions, which can hinder or slow the process of integration, said Kibaki here Friday during an official dinner he hosted for Kikwete.
"This underscores the need to educate our people about the benefits of political and economic integration in order to create the required understanding and commitment right up to the grassroots level," said Kibaki.
Kibaki said the lawmakers in the partner states have an important role to play in facilitating the process of integration as negotiations on outstanding issues continue.
Kikwete assured President Kibaki that Tanzania was ready to work with Kenya and Uganda to ensure a vibrant and viable regional integration and realize the dream of an East African federation the soonest possible.
"Allow me to take note and highly commend you for your tireless efforts aimed at expediting the East Africa integration process. Your devotion and commitment on the matter is and has always been appreciated by me," President Kikwete said to his host.
Kibaki expressed satisfaction that negotiations on the draft protocol on free movement of persons, labor, services, rights of establishment and residence have commenced, which further underscores the East Africans' commitment to the integration process in the sub-region.
Kibaki said he was also encouraged by the progress made in other areas of cooperation both at the bilateral level and within the wider East African community.
"I am keen to see these relations expand further in areas such as tourism and wildlife management, infrastructure development, modernization of communication networks and in the various regional development projects," he said.