Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni repeated his call for an East African political federation to strengthen the region’s political and economic integration.
Museveni made the call during bilateral talks with his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu in Dar es Salaam. Museveni is in Tanzania to discuss various issues including, health, trade and the opportunities and prospects that the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project presents to the East African Community (EAC).
Museveni said a regional federation will create a united market for millions of businesses of East Africans and create a bloc with which will give the federation’s countries greater bargaining power with major industrialized trade partners, such as the U.S., China, the UK and the European Union.
Additionally, the federation would ease the management of insecurity in neighboring countries, such as Somalia, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Museveni urged East African leaders to take advantage of the “shared heritage” of the major ethnic groups in the region and the common use of the Swahili language in the respective countries to foster the creation of such a federation.
“It is these similarities and ancient linkages that should enable East Africa to achieve maximum unity in the form of both political (federation) and economic (common market) integration,” Museveni said.
“At the continental level, you do not have the same similarities like you have in respect to East and Central Africa. You may even have some irreconcilable contradictions that would not permit the maximum level of integration. However, the common market of Africa is possible and desirable.”
Museveni warned that failure to create a united political federation would spell misery for future generations of East Africans akin to what certain regions in the world currently face.
Museveni has been a strong advocate of an East Africa federation, an idea which originated about five decades ago and involves the creation of a political union of African states.
Efforts towards realizing the federation halted in the late 1970s following the collapse of the EAC. A fresh effort towards establishing the federation resurfaced following the revival of the bloc in 1999.
In 2019, an EAC Heads of State meeting in Arusha, Tanzania, tasked Museveni to oversee the political federation process of the regional bloc.
2023 was agreed as the new date when the federation would be implemented but so far progress on the issue has been slow.