Hotel Diamonds La Gemma de l'Est
Your Excellency Dr. Jean Ping;
Chairperson of the AU Commission,
Your Excellency Abdoulie Janneh,
UN Deputy Secretary General and
Executive Secretary of the ECA,
Your Excellency Dr. Donald Kaberuka
President of the African Development Bank,
My Colleagues, the CEOs of RECs
and Regional Mechanisms,
Distinguished AUC Commissioners,
Hon. Beatrice Kiraso,
Deputy Secretary General, East African Community,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the East African Community, I warmly welcome you to the United Republic of Tanzania and specifically to Zanzibar, the world famous Spice Islands and home to the World Heritage Site of Stone Town. I truly hope that you will not miss the chance to explore the beauty, serenity and splendour of these Islands that are rich in Arabic and Islamic civilization. A special warm welcome to you, Dr. Jean Ping. Your presence at meetings of the AU-RECs Coordination Committee is of great significance. As RECs we feel honoured and respected when you allow us the opportunity to interact with you at close quarters.
We meet in Zanzibar at a most historic moment in the political life of these islands and, indeed, of the Tanzanian Union itself. The Tanzania Presidential and House of Representatives elections which took place exactly eight days ago have opened a new page of democracy, peace and stability for Zanzibar and for the United Republic of Tanzania.
Following the recent constitutional change in Zanzibar to allow the formation of a Government of National Unity as a fundamental political governance principle, Zanzibar has this past week gone through the most peaceful, free and fair elections in history. The political rancour that used to embroil past elections has given way to a political modus vivendi whose driving ethos is the realization of peace, stability and progress for all Zanzibaris.
This new political and constitutional dispensation in Zanzibar augurs well for the consolidation of the Tanzania Union which represents Africa's model of political integration.
Your Excellency and Colleagues,
I believe that all of us have also closely followed the trends in the just ended Tanzania Union general elections. Close observers of the Tanzanian political scene would tell you that the elections this year have reflected a radical departure from those experienced since 1992 when Tanzania re-adopted a multi-party political system government. There has been a marked change in the electoral performance of the political parties, notably of those that oppose the ruling party, CCM.
For true democrats, this change is an important one in the African democratic political process. It shows that democracy and pluralism are taking root and that the electorate is becoming ever more aware of its political rights and choices. Africa needs to share these experiences especially where they reflect powerful trends towards political change but in environments that also manifest strong culture of peace and tranquility.
Your Excellency and Colleagues,
As we meet here today we cannot fail to be seized of the enormity of the mandate of the RECs as the building blocks of the African Union. We cannot also fail to be seized of the complexities of the issues and the serious capacity constraints the RECs face in discharging their mandate. The fact that we have structured this platform is clear recognition of the seriousness we place on our collective quest to share insights and experiences to better deliver on our lofty mandates.
The challenges we face hinge on a number of goals: good governance, peace and security; and social and economic development.
Similarly, there are challenges of a global dimension, such as climate change and unfavorable terms of trade, both of which require joint efforts and effective responses of essentially national but also of regional nature and scope. I am pleased to note that some of these challenges constitute the agenda of our deliberations at this meeting. But I am equally happy that our meeting will focus on how AU's building blocs are working together within the spirit of realizing broader African integration. The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite is a unique model that should be hailed and replicated in other parts of Africa. The view that resides in certain quarters of integration opinion that this tripartite model seeks to undermine the larger continental quest is simply bizarre and impolitic.
Let me end my welcoming remarks by once again thanking the African Union Commission for accepting EAC's wish to host this meeting in Zanzibar. I trust you will find the environment here highly supportive of serious work. As we say in Kiswahili, KARIBUNI SANA.