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CIVIL SOCIETY FORUMS SET TO ENGAGE PUBLIC IN EAC INTEGRATION DEBATE

By Anne Kiruku
East African News Agency

Arusha, 3 August 2013 (EANA) – National conferences being organized to take place in August are set to provide a special and unique avenue for citizens of the five partner states of the East African Community to deliberate on integration issues.

The conferences will be held from 12th to 20th August and are organized by the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF). The umbrella body of civil society organizations in East Africa conduct the conferences on behalf of civil society organisations.

The move is in line with efforts to deepen the consultative process by bringing it to the national, sub-national and grassroots levels, thus moving it as close as possible to the people, according to Dr Martin Mwondha, EACSOF’s Chief Executive Officer.

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‘’ The consultative dialogue meetings are aimed at promoting successful operations of the EAC Consultative Dialogue Framework. The objective of this framework is to facilitate dialogue between the EAC, the private sector and civil society,’’ he added.

The citizens will be briefed on the current status and achievements that have been attained in regional integration efforts. They will also be educated and informed about the existence and operations of the Consultative Dialogue Framework for the private sector, the civil society, and other interested groups.

The conferences will also provide a forum for highlighting the key challenges facing CSOs and the ways that have been proposed for addressing these problems. The quick wins gained by the EAC integration efforts will be tabled. The ways through which the Civil Society Organisations may make regional integration a reality will also be discussed.

Involving civil society organisations in EAC integration efforts is being given paramount importance; as a result, the conferences will seek to enhance partnerships between the EAC Secretariat, the ministries in charge of EAC Affairs in each member state, and civil society organisations, the EACSOF boss said.

The citizens will further be addressed by a representative of EACSOF on the potential benefits of EAC integration and how to use the Consultative Dialogue Framework in integration efforts.

Finally, the citizens will also get a chance to attend plenary discussions. During the discussions, the “quick wins” that are of benefit to the citizens will be highlighted. The role that the civil society can play to bring the quick wins into reality will also be discussed.

The conferences have been organised in partnership with FORSC Burundi, IMLU Kenya, Rwanda Civil Society Platform, the Tanzania NGO Forum (TANGO), and the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF).

The ministries in charge of EAC affairs and the EAC Secretariat will also participate in the planned conferences. The conferences are being supported by GIZ/GOPA.

The recommendations from the national conferences, dubbed, “Quick wins for EAC,” will be incorporated in the EAC Secretary General’s forum to be held from 7-9th October in Nairobi.

AK/LC/NI

 
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