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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

EAC eminent persons` panel in the pipeline

5th March 2012

Experts from the Partner States of the East African Community have adopted a draft proposal for the establishment and functioning of the EAC Panel of Eminent Persons whose purpose is providing the EAC with the capacity of conducting preventive diplomacy and peaceful resolutions to conflicts.

The draft instrument was adopted at a two-day meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi on February 23-24, this year. The establishment of the EAC Panel is consistent with the provisions of the EAC Treaty (Articles 6, 123 and 124).

The move also implements the Strategy for Regional Peace and Security; the draft Protocol on Peace and Security; draft Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR) Mechanism; draft Early Warning Mechanism and the draft Protocol on Good Governance.

According to the provisions of the draft instrument, the Panel is mandated to advise the Summit, the Council and the Secretary General on all issues pertaining to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in the Community.

It covers areas of promotion and protection of human rights, respect for the rule of law, as well as key elements to the process of EAC political integration. “The Panel may, as and when necessary and in the form it considers most appropriate, pronounce itself on any issue related to the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability in East Africa and related matters,’’ reads the 12-page Draft Modality in part.

The Panel will be composed of one Eminent Person from each partner state who is a highly respected independent personality of high integrity; and who has made outstanding contribution to the cause of peace, security and development at national, regional, continental or international levels.

However, where particular situation warrants, the Panel may propose additional persons from within or outside the Community for appointment by the Summit. The Panel members shall not hold active political office at the time of their tenure.

EAC deputy secretary-general in charge of Political Federation Beatrice Kiraso said the Panel seeks to provide the region with its own capacity to conduct preventive diplomacy for the purpose of defusing potential violent conflicts at their nascent stage, but also in case they have already blown out, to manage and transform them peacefully.

“The Panel of Eminent Persons will particularly play a major role in preventing and managing election-related violence,” she noted.

The Draft Modality will be tabled before the Joint Sectoral Councils on Cooperation in Defence, Inter-State Security and Foreign Policy Coordination for consideration and adoption before it is submitted to the EAC Council for approval.

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