The Minister gave the assurance during a press conference with local, regional and international media correspondents where he highlighted major events that took and will take place in the country.
The EAC Heads of State Summit was scheduled on November 30th, 2019 but was postponed to later in January or February this year.
In a letter Olivier Nduhungirehe, the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation wrote to the EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko, postponing the meeting was requested by a member who was not disclosed in the letter.
“The EAC Heads of State Summit has been postponed on request of a member state and will take place at a later date in January or February 2020.”
Minister Biruta confirmed the meeting would happen despite several sources questioning it due to the current uncertain political atmosphere between EAC countries.
“The EAC Heads of State Summit being postponed had nothing to do with a dispute or disagreement among the EAC Partner States.”
Currently, an adverse political climate reigns between EAC countries since the start of Uganda-Rwanda feud. It is the same case between Burundi and Rwanda. Kenya and Tanzania are also not on good terms due to disagreements based on trade policies between the two countries.
In a press conference with President Paul Kagame on November 8th, 2019, he stressed that solving issues between EAC member states is more important than planning for meetings.
“We have even gone two years without a meeting and that does not necessarily imply a disagreement between EAC member states. Cooperation between countries is not always easy and I knew it from the get-go but the benefits that come from it are to be cherished and hence political conflicts should be resolved at all costs.”
During the 21st EAC Heads of State Summit, members will assess the eligibility of South Sudan and Somalia which have applied to become member states of the EAC.
The meeting will also reiterate Kenya’s endorsement by the African Union to obtain a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2021. Kenya is up against Djibouti for the seat once South Africa’s term expires.
On the agenda, member states will also assess the eligibility of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to become a member state of the EAC as per the DRC application on July 8th, 2019. DRC applied to become a member state of the EAC in a letter addressed to President Paul Kagame who is the current EAC chairman. DRC provided as a reason for the application, the trade opportunities as one of the perks of being an EAC member state.
EAC Secretary General, Liberat Mfumukeko said the fact that more countries are applying to join the EAC is a sign the community is thriving. “Trade between EAC member countries has grown from revenues worth $2.7 billion in 2016 to $2.9 billion in 2017 and $3.3 billion in 2018.
The East African Community is currently made of 5 countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
It is not the first time the EAC Heads of State Summit has been postponed since it happened before for the 20th edition of the meeting. The meeting was finally held in Arusha, Tanzania on January 1st, 2019.
However, Pierre Nkurunziza, President of Burundi who for 5 years now has not left the country was absent, after a coup led by Major General Godefroid Niyombare threatened his seat while he was out of the country.