African Countries Work for Unity

It lasted little more than a decade, but the East African Community, one of Africa's earliest attempts at regional cooperation, was proof to Kenyans, Ugandans and Tanzanians that after a half-century of British rule, they could make it on their own.

On Monday, leaders from the three countries gather in Arusha, Tanzania to breathe new life into the group, 23 years after it sputtered out amid recriminations and disagreements over how modern African states should develop.

Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda will formally re-establish the East African Community, which takes effect in July.

In addition to agreeing to strengthen political, economic, social and cultural relations, the three countries have agreed to adopt a common East African passport. The East African Development Bank, the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization and the inter-university council for East Africa never collapsed.

Also envisaged are a customs union, a common market for about 81 million people, a meteorological department and free movement of people and residence without immigration control.

The three country presidents will regularly set policy for the East African Community, which also has a council of ministers, a court and a legislature made up of nine representatives from each country.

People's Daily Online ---