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President Mwai Kibaki has called on East African Community (EAC) members to jointly find ways of diplomatically addressing the unfolding events on the Sudan and South Sudan border because the two nations must not return to war so soon after a peaceful separation.
President Kibaki at the same time called on the presidents of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan to work closely to resolve the emerging disputes to avoid reversing gains realised after the successful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The president made the remarks on Tuesday while addressing a special sitting of the East African Legislative Assembly at Parliament buildings.
On the Somali conflict, the Head of State noted that Somalia was presently going through a defining moment and that the country had a great opportunity to move ahead after 20 years of internal strife.
He asserted that the EAC had a responsibility to the people of Somalia by ensuring the country enjoyed stability.
During the occasion, he appreciated Uganda, Burundi and Kenya for their contribution towards peace and stability in Somalia and the sacrifices made by the armed forces from the three countries particularly putting their lives on risk for sake of the region's peace.
The president called on the region to continue extending support to the African Union's initiative to stabilize Somalia.
The Head of State emphasised that stability in Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan is critical to peace and prosperity in the region adding that the focus was the entry of these countries to the EAC which they have already expressed a desire to join.
President Kibaki was categorical that stability in the region would enable the neighbouring states implement many ambitious cross-border projects that are in the planning stage.
He told the East African Assembly legislators that huge investments were required to interconnect the region through railways, roads, fibre-optic cable and oil pipelines among vital linkages.
The Head of State declared that peace was a vital ingredient for development to further enable the neighbouring countries to take advantage of the many untapped opportunities in the region.
With regard to integration process, President Kibaki called on the East African Community members to eliminate non-tariff barriers which continue to hamper the realization of full benefits of free movement of goods and factors of production in the region.
President Kibaki asserted that under the Customs Union and Common Market every EAC member must ensure the removal of these barriers which act as a bottleneck to regional integration.
He stated that some of the barriers were being erected by people who did not understand the workings of a common market.
President Kibaki said: "The establishment of the Customs Union in 2005 and Common Market in 2010 fulfilled our dream of economically integrating our region."
With regard to this, the Head of State affirmed that member states need to clearly communicate across the region all policies agreed upon by various institutions of the East African Community to ensure a seamless flow of goods and services among the States.
The president asserted that the partner states needed to focus their energies in deepening the integration and moving it to higher levels.
He noted that a Summit scheduled later this month will consider the progress made in the establishment of a Single Customs Territory which is meant to facilitate further, free movement of goods within the Community.
The president said: "On the establishment of the Monetary Union which is the next pillar of integration, we have already given the necessary direction. It is my expectation that the experts involved in the preparatory work will be concluding their work soon, so as to have the establishment of a monetary union as planned."
Welcoming the EAC legislators in Kenya, he thanked the Assembly for playing a pivotal role deepening and widening the integration process for benefit of all East African residents.
President Kibaki remarked, "During this period, the contribution of the Second Assembly in the integration process has been commendable. The Assembly has played a crucial role in deepening and widening the integration process for the benefit of all East Africans."
He expressed satisfaction that the Assembly played a key role in making the people of East Africa actively participate in the integration process particularly through numerous public hearings of bills conducted throughout the region.
He added, "The Second East African Legislative Assembly whose five year term is coming to end has debated and passed a total of 35 pieces of legislation, three times more than the First Assembly."
"This is highly commendable. The Honourable members showed great commitment and hard work during your tenure."
Thanking East African Legislative Assembly Speaker Abdirahin Abdi for his outstanding performance and stewardship, President Kibaki urged the EALA members to continue you supporting the integration process in their own individual ways even when their term came to end in the next two months time.
"The achievements by the East African Legislative Assembly would not have been possible without your outstanding leadership. You have steered the House business with commendable zeal and wisdom. Your contribution has no doubt set high standards and I thank you for a job well done," President Kibaki commented.
In his address President Kibaki thanked development partners for their continued support towards the integration process.
He noted, "It is my hope that this partnership will continue to grow to higher levels."
The two week EALA plenary which started on Monday is the Fourth Meeting of the Fifth Session of the Second Assembly.
During the Nairobi sitting, EALA Speaker Abdi said, the session will debate on the Report of the Committee on Legal, Rules and Privileges on Compliance to the Treaty provisions and EAC laws as well as the Report tabled by the Committee on Communication, Trade and Investment on oversight and related matters.
Among other bills lined up for debate include the EAC Customs Management Act (Amendment) Bill 2011 - 2nd & 3rd Reading, the EAC Community's Emblems (Amendment) Bill 2012 - 2nd & 3rd reading, the EAC HIV & AIDS Prevention & Management Bill 2012 -2nd & 3rd Reading and the EAC Election Bill, 2012, 2nd & 3rd Reading.
The Speaker assured the member states that EALA always put into consideration feedback from wananchi in all its legislation pieces passed.
Abdi commended President Kibaki and the Kenya government for the new people driven constitutional dispensation. He also appreciated free universal primary education which formed part of President Kibaki's legacy to Kenyans.
Kenya's Speaker Kenneth Marende on his part assured EALA of support necessary for execution of their mandate in passing of legislation and the EAC integration process.
Both Marende and EALA speaker congratulated President Kibaki for assuming the chairmanship of the EAC.
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