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EA experts approve setting up of Eminent Persons Panel

4th March 2012
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East African Peace and Security Experts have endorsed an idea of forming an EAC Eminent Persons Panel for prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts in the region.

The experts approved the modalities for the panel during a meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi.

The EAC-exclusive Panel of Eminent Persons would provide the region with the capacity of conducting preventive diplomacy and seek amicable solutions when conflicts occur.

Some of the regional conflicts in the minds of the experts included the recent Kenyan post-election violence, the Migingo Island, the Zanzibar pre-and post elections violence and this year’s Uganda post election violence.

‘’We need some wise respected and neutral leaders[ men and women] from the EAC Partner States who can step-in to quell matters before they become a fully blown conflict,’’ a source who attended the meeting told the Independent East African News Agency (EANA).

The establishment of the panel is in fulfillment of the Treaty requirement.

According to the provisions of the Draft Modality, 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, including 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 in part the 12-page Draft Modality.

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 members should not hold active political office at the time of their tenure.

Earlier, the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Ms Beatrice Kiraso said the EAC Panel of Eminent Persons 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,’’ Ms Kiraso said in an opening address read for her by the EAC Conflict and Early Warning Expert, Mr. Benoit Biharmiriza.

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.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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