Rwandan president Paul Kagame on Friday took over chairmanship of EAC Summit of Heads of State and Government from his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni who has been the head since May 2017 when he replaced President John Magufuli of Tanzania.
Kagame was named as the new EAC head in Arusha where he attended the East African Community Heads of State Summit, erasing doubts that he would skip and opt to mark Heroes Day celebrations in his country.
In his acceptance speech, President Kagame who is also the chairperson of the African Union said: ” I thank you for entrusting me with this role. I want to assure you of my commitment as chairperson of the EAC summit.”
Four of six East African Community heads of state attended the meeting.
Host president John Magufuli was joined by his counterparts Museveni of Uganda, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.
Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza sent his first vice-president Gaston Sindimwo while South Sudanese leader Salva Kiir was represented by his Foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial.
The summit had been postponed twice after Burundi’s last minute boycott of the planned November meet which was rescheduled to December but failed to take place.
Burundi wanted the EAC leaders to first address differences pitting his country and Rwanda. Relations between the two neighbours have soured since the failed Bujumbura coup in 2015 threatening to tear apart the Community.
Now, there is expectations that the Summit will help unlock programmes and foster EAC integration at a time when observers have predicted a collapse akin to the 1977 one.