Somalia is seeking to participate more in East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) affairs as it awaits the approval of its application to join the East African Community (EAC) trading bloc.
The Speaker of Somalia’s federal parliament, Mohammed Osman Jawari, on Wednesday held talks with Eala Speaker Daniel Kidega on the sidelines of a state-of-the-nation address in Kampala, Uganda.
According to Mr Jawari, the Somali parliament is considering sending a delegation of legislators to the next Eala plenary so they can benefit from the deliberations in the regional assembly.
He noted that the Somali parliament has three main areas of focus in its mandate — constitutional review, federalisation of the country and economic development — which are at the centre of focus in rebuilding Somalia.
The Eala Speaker, however, expressed concerns by the East African Community about finding a permanent solution to the issues affecting Somalia.
Somalia has been grappling with long periods of instability and insecurity since after its independence in 1960.
“When we look at the bigger picture and within the framework of integration, we can certainly find solutions to problems in Somalia just like in all other partner states. The more we are, the better for the region,” Mr Kidega said.
APPLIED TO JOIN IN 2012
Somalia applied to join the EAC in March 2012, but the community is yet to approve the application.
The earliest the country can join the EAC is next year after the verification process is complete and a report presented at the next EAC heads of state summit.
Addressing the Somalia parliamentary representatives, Mr Kidega said both Houses (the Eala and the Federal Parliament of Somalia) needed to start the process of co-operation and to maintain interaction as a precursor to addressing insecurity matters, occasioned by the constant threats of Al-Shabaab and banditry among other concerns.
Both speakers reiterated the need to ensure information flow and exchange between their respective parliaments.
Such a move, Mr Jawari said, would equip legislators in Somalia with best practices and to boost their understanding on regional integration.
“Keeping our communication lines open is vital as there are many aspects that we can learn from each other and likewise benefit from,” said Mr Jawari.
Analysts see Somalia’s admission at the EAC as an important factor to security in the East African region.
This is because they have been a source of small arms that have contributed to insecurity in the region and especially Kenya.