The 21st Ordinary meeting of the Summit of East African Community (EAC) Heads of State which was recently called off by Rwanda on the request of South Sudan, will now take place on March 16 this year, SoftPower News has learnt.
The meeting had earlier been scheduled for Arusha Tanzania on Saturday, February 29, 2020 but postponed by Rwanda which has the mandate to schedule the date and oversee the summit sitting, since the country’s President is the current Chairperson of the regional bloc’s top most organ, The Summit.
In a February 21, 2020 letter to EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the East African Community, Olivier Nduhungirehe, noted that the decision to reschedule the Summit to an unestablished date then, was reached on a request by South Sudan, one of the partner states, to allow them complete the process of forming a new Transitional Government of National Unity (ToGONU) with the opposition groups.
The same postponement also saw the 41st Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers earlier slated to take place from 25th to 27th February, 2020 at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha extended to an unestablished date then.
Now, this news website has established that Rwanda has set March 16, 2020 and March 14, 2020 as the new dates for the 21st Ordinary meeting of the Summit of EAC Heads of State and the 41st Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers respectively.
In Nduhungirehe’s letter to Mfumukeko seen by this website communicating the new dates, the minister says, “After consultations with Partner States, I have the honour to inform you that the 21st Ordinary Summit has been rescheduled on Monday, 16th March 2020 at 11:30am in Arusha Tanzania.”
As such, the Senior Officials’ session will be held on Thursday March 12, followed by a meeting of the Coordination Committee the next day before the Council of Ministers sitting on Saturday March 14.
“In this regard, I would like to request you to invite Partner States to the 41st Extraordinary meeting of the Council,” wrote Nduhungirehe to Mfumukeko on March 2.
Nduhungirehe however notes that President Paul Kagame who is the Chairperson of the Summit will invite the members for the 21st Ordinary Summit.
Rwanda first pushed the same Summit which was scheduled for November 30 2019 to February this year allegedly on the request of one of the member states who was not mentioned at the time. Minister Nduhugirehe, while responding to this news site’s story regarding the calling off of last months story, stated that the partner state was Tanzania.
It should be remembered that this 21st Ordinary Summit was in 2018 postponed twice after Burundi pulled out, accusing Rwanda’s President, Kagame, of scheming to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government. It was alleged that Kagame masterminded the attempted and thwarted coup on Nkurunziza when he was away to attend an East African Heads of State Summit in Tanzania. Rwanda however consistently denies interfering and backing any rebels from Burundi.
Kagame in his capacity as the Chairman of the Summit of EAC has since assuming the role I February 2019, never chaired a single Summit meeting, some thing that has raised concern among many East Africans who want to see among other things progress in the EAC bloc, unfettered cross-border trade, movement of persons and integration projects.
For a year now, authorities in Rwanda block their nationals including traders and school going children from crossing into Uganda against their will. Rwanda says it is protecting them from arbitrary harassment in Uganda. Rwandan security however continues on a daily to battle huge numbers of Rwandans using ungazetted routes to cross into Uganda.