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Museveni Opens East Africa Assembly

By Vision Reporter

Added 21st January 2002 03:00 AM

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has told members of the East African Legislative Assembly to get “serious” with the process of regional integration and not be derailed by agitators of political pluralism or “opportunistic democrats.”

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has told members of the East African Legislative Assembly to get “serious” with the process of regional integration and not be derailed by agitators of political pluralism or “opportunistic democrats.”

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has told members of the East African Legislative Assembly to get “serious” with the process of regional integration and not be derailed by agitators of political pluralism or “opportunistic democrats.” Felix Osike reports that the assembly opened yesterday at the International Conference Centre Kampala and will sit for five days before undertaking a familiarisation tour from January 31 to February 4. Museveni said the only way out for the region’s backwardness was integration. He gave a background on the revival of the East African Community and the gains made so far, laying emphasis on the benefits derived from a larger market. He said, “History compels us to move towards integration with greater speed than hitherto. Full integration would serve the interests of our people better. “We must modernise. If we don’t, we shall perish,” he told the regional legislators in a one-hour address. Unlike in Arusha where security was lax, journalists were still not allowed in with their cameras. Earlier, Museveni kept the MPs waiting for over 10 minutes after rejecting a speech prepared for him. “I am still waiting for my speech. It is my fault because I had not accepted the earlier one they had written. It was the usual story. I did not accept their speech. That is why I think they were not co-ordinated,” a visibly upset Museveni said. East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary General Amanya Mushega, Catholic prelate Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala, Speaker of Parliament Edward Sekandi, his deputy Rebecca Kadaga, ministers Jim Muhwezi, Mike Mukula and Counsel to the EAC Wilbert Kaahwa were among those present. The assembly, which was inaugurated on November 30 in Arusha, reconvened yesterday at parliamentary chambers to deliberate on various regional issues. It is composed of 27 elected representatives and five ex-officio members. In yesterday’s sitting presided over by Speaker Abdulrahman Kinana, a Tanzanian, the House’s Business Committee (HBC), which will draw the workplan, was constituted. The members include Kinana (chairman), Tanzania’s foreign minister Jakaya Kikwete who is an ex-officio, Isaac Sepetu (Tanzania), Wandera Ogallo and Yonasani Kanyomozi from Uganda and Gilbert Ochieng Mbeo and Prof. Margaret Kamar from Kenya. Museveni defended the expulsion of Ugandan herdsmen from Tanzania saying, “They were indisciplined ones who did not want to settle down.” He said herdsmen did not respect the borders. “As long as the borders are still there, you must respect them.” He said while in pre-industrial times the big political units were mainly for security and uniting the natural resources, the emphasis now under capitalism had shifted to market for finance capital, goods and services. “With economies, small is not beautiful. Big markets are not only desirable but necessary,” he said. Museveni said while the United States market was $11 trillion, Africa’s market is only $12b. “The smallness of our market is due to both smallness of the population and low per capita income,” he said. He said East Africa, Rwanda and Burundi with a population of 100 million and Gross Domestic Product (combined output of the five countries) at $22b, the region “has slightly more chances of causing an impression on the partners (donors) you are bargaining with.” Addressing the MPs on the democratisation process, Museveni said there were many African countries including Senegal and Ivory Coast without wars and where multipartyism has been in place but are still backward. “Ivory Coast has had multipartyism since independence, but why are they still backward? When we talk about democracy, it must be disciplined democracy.” He said apart from the economic problems, the region was also faced with political fragmentation which he said was responsible for the current “cultural mutilation.” “Multipartyism, multipartyism, but where is the transformation from backwardness to modernisation? Africans had better be serious. We are not serious. Afghanistan was a good lesson to show the difference between backwardness and modernisation.” He said like the Taliban regime, which has been defeated by the US, backward people cannot defend themselves. He said the EAC would work with the World Trade Organisation to access bigger markets in the world. “Fighting for markets is the future of Africa.” A Kenyan delegate, Rose Waruhiu, moved a vote of thanks and added that the members would take their duties seriously. Ends

Museveni Opens East Africa Assembly

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