n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Politics first : military integration in the East African Community (EAC) : East Africa - issue on focus

Volume 2013, Issue 02
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Mirroring the global surge in regional integration initiatives, Africa has seemingly given itself over to the drive towards inter-state cooperation. The belief in African unity through shared history and experience is predicated on the concept of Pan-Africanism and the momentum towards regional integration. This is particularly well illustrated through the experience of the East African Community (EAC), which has focussed on creating an organisation that offers extensive economic and political cooperation, as well as an ill-timed emphasis on military integration. The EAC has gained substantial momentum over recent years. Formed in 2001 and with a current membership of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, the EAC is an organisation that promises security to one of Africa's most unstable regions.

The EAC is concerned with the pervasive regional insecurity that accompanies threats from extremist rebel groups and coastal piracy, and has stated its intention to pursue extensive military cooperation between its member states. Despite an overall decrease in the number of attacks by pirates in the Horn of Africa, attempts at attacks made by pirates off the Somali coast in May and June 2012 demonstrate the sustained nature of such security threats. In its pursuit of political, economic, and military integration, however, the EAC has created a misguided strategy in which military cooperation is taken to be the prerequisite for further unity. The October 2012 announcement of an EAC regional defence pact, made by EAC Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera and endorsed by the EAC member states, has pushed the question of EAC military integration into the spotlight. In light of the internal political disputes that plague the region, the use of military cooperation as political leverage, and the complexity of the security threats faced, the EAC must establish concrete political foundations before effective military integration can be achieved.

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