Kampala, Uganda | URN | Kenya’s President William Ruto has urged his Ugandan counterpart President Yoweri Museveni to use his experience and age to ensure that the East African Community (EAC) achieves the much-desired political federation.
Dr Ruto was among the five heads of state from the region who showed up for Uganda’s 60th independence anniversary celebration at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on Sunday 9, October 2022 held under the theme; ‘A declaration of African Independence and our Shared Destiny’.
“Your excellency with age and with experience comes responsibility. You have the age, you have the experience. Take the responsibility and lead the charge,” said President Ruto.
In his speech, Dr Ruto said that the time has come for East Africa to transform its borders into bridges that would improve the lives of more than 300 million people. He said the region has a lot of respect for Mr Museveni, which he should leverage to push for a united East Africa and later Africa.
“Mzee Museveni, as I said, is our elder we have tremendous respect for him and we look up to him to now work so that we can eliminate the borders that separate our people in East Africa and in Africa. It is very clear to us that we cannot share poverty and we cannot share hunger but we can share opportunity and we can share prosperity. It is our place as leaders and as citizens of the East African region for us to work together so that we can transform our borders which today stand out as barriers and convert them to bridges so that goods and services and people can move across this East Africa without any impediments,” added President Ruto.
Dr Ruto, who was last month sworn in as the fifth president of Kenya also called upon the business people in the East African Community (EAC) to take advantage of the relationship and the infrastructure that the leaders have built over the years to start producing commodities that the region imports from outside Africa.
He cited an example of fertilizers, steel, and cement, among others as items that can be produced in the region especially since the raw materials are readily available. This, he said will not only create employment opportunities for the people but will also stop the haemorrhaging of the much-needed foreign exchange.
“The business people are lagging behind the policymakers. I urge our entrepreneurs to take advantage of the infrastructure provided by the East African Community to transform our region. There is no reason why food can’t find its way to Kenya from Uganda when it is needed,” Dr Ruto said.
President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan said Africa must take charge of its destiny. Just like Ruto, Kiir said coming together first as East Africans and then as Africans is the only way that the continent will be transformed economically.
Kiir hailed Museveni for his love for Africa by being at the forefront of ensuring that there is peace in a number of African countries including South Sudan. On his part, the President of Burundi Evariste Ndayishimye said that Museveni’s contribution towards the stabilization of the East African region can’t be underestimated.
He said by Uganda conducting a military operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is testimony that insecurity in one part of East Africa needs to be confronted through collective effort.
Ndayishimye, who is the current chairman of the EAC, reiterated the need to come together as East Africans because of the common history and heritage.
“The impact of colonization left us with many problems and most of which are division. There are people in Uganda who came from Burundi and there are people in Burundi who came from Uganda. We are one people this is our heritage… I note that we can only be strong when we are one people with a common destiny,” Ndayisimye said.
Hassan Sheikh Muhamud, the President of Somalia, thanked Museveni for standing with his country to defeat what he called international terrorism. Muhamud said that the problems that his country is facing are similar to those Uganda is facing and by working together, they stand a chance of succeeding.
“Somali and Uganda face a common enemy which is international terrorism. We thank Uganda and other troop-contributing countries for laying a foundation for a peaceful nation by working hard to annihilate al-Shabaab once and for all. I express our gratitude for the sacrifices of the men and women of Uganda in the fight against international terrorism. We commemorate these sacrifices Uganda has made…under the able leadership of Museveni; this is an exemplary step taken towards nation building,” Muhamud said.
The guests included among others Ali Hussein Mwinyi, the President of Zanzibar who represented President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania. Mwinyi said that Uganda and Tanzania will not back off from the construction of the East African Crude Pipeline as suggested by the European Union (EU) parliament in a resolution recently.
“When completed this project will create employment and unlock the East African oil potential and improve the livelihood of our people and the region as a whole. Tanzania and Uganda shouldn’t be deterred by any condemnation which is based on misinformation. We should remain steadfast on this project which will bring a lot of opportunity to our people,” Mwinyi said.