Makerere University head of Political Science and Public Administration department, Dr Simba Ssali (L), chats with some of the youths after the East African Community youth convention on EAC integration in Kampala recently.
Kampala- Uganda should first restore presidential term limits or forget about the East African federation, youth from East Africa have demanded.
The youth, comprising mainly students, argue that a federation with a country that scrapped off term limits in 2005 would be, “a suicidal move to associate with politically dishonest and unprincipled people”.
They were speaking at a three-day East Africa Community youth convention on East African integration in Kampala yesterday.
Mr Brian Atuheire, a third year student at Makerere University, said Uganda is the main culprit, you cannot tell how power will shift hands.
“As youth, we are demanding that the political questions be put on the table and honest answers given. We don’t want to go into an EAC that will be in shambles,” Mr Atuheire, said.
Mr Juma Omollo, a Kenyan student, called on East African states to first address the political issues.
“Rwanda has two seven-year term limits. They must harmonise those constitutional differences and learn from Kenya and Tanzania, otherwise that will disorganise us in the federation,” Mr Omollo, said.
The more than 100 youth also sounded alarms to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda in what they termed a ‘tactical move to kill the EAC’.
“Killing the integration by sidelining Tanzania and Burundi is utter selfishness which must end,” Rwanda’s Mr Gashegu Muramira, a former youth ambassador to the EAC, said.
Dr Ssali Simba, the head of political science department at Makerere University advised the students to abandon tribal associations at universities as they don’t augur well for the integration.
“Identity is part of our lives. However, there is no specific problem affecting a Musoga, Muganda or Kikuyu differently. The problems affecting youth in East Africa cut across tribes. Focus on the bigger picture as East Africans rather than these small tribes that divide us,” Mr Simba, said.
Reacting to the youth’s fears that political disparities do not augur well for the federation, Mr Simba said: “Partly yes, partly no. In integration, there are issues that need harmonisation. Governance structures like term limits are extremely dangerous if some states observe them and others don’t. They have to agree on that or else the system won’t function well.”
Mid last month, experts from the East African Community member states convened a two-day forum to draft a constitution for the political federation to guide the future constitution making process which will be presented at the next Heads of State summit.