Rwanda has asked for the postponement of the East Africa Community (EAC) Heads-of-State meeting, saying it‘s taking “measures to limit internal or international travels by its officials” as a result of Coronavirus outbreak.
“… travel restrictions have been taken by all countries across the world, including EAC partner states,” said Minister Biruta in a letter to EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko dated March 12.
“Some, including from our Community, have also postponed or suspended international conferences that they were expected to host,” he added, apparently referring to Uganda.
The Summit was scheduled for March 16.
Biruta said the government of Rwanda also took measures to limit internal or international travels by its officials.
“All these measures will certainly impact on the quorum required for EAC meetings,” he emphasised.
The Summit had been postponed twice since last year in the absence of South Sudan, which asked to be allowed time to settle its domestic affairs.
The Summit was initially scheduled for November 30, 2019, but was pushed to February 29 due to lack of quorum.
It was once again suspended and later rescheduled for February 29 before being called off again at the Request of South Sudan.
Rwanda’s Junior Minister for East EAC Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe recently announced that the Regional Heads of State Summit would be held mid-March.
“After consultation with Partner States, I have the honor to inform you that the 21st Ordinary Summit has been rescheduled on Monday, 16th March 2020 at 11:30am in Arusha, Tanzania,” the Minister wrote to the EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko.
The March 16 Summit would have been preceded by the 41st Extraordinary Council of Ministers on Thursday, 12th March 2020 (Senior Officials’ session); Friday, 13th March 2020 (Coordination Committee) and Saturday, 14th March 2020, (Council of Ministers).
According to Rule 11 of the Rules of Procedure of the Summit of the EAC Heads of State, quorum is made of all partner states representation, which is in consonance with decision making by consensus under article 12 of the treaty.
Simplified, the EAC leaders’ Summit can only take place if all the six member states – Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan are represented.
On March 10, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 61 countries had registered local transmission of COVID 19 while 6 countries are under investigation.
Currently over 113,702 confirmed cases have been reported with over 4,000 deaths.
On Wednesday, the WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared COVID 19 a pandemic.
In Africa, 11 countries have reported cases of COVID 19 and they include Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria Tunisia, Togo, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of Congo.