Thursday, 20 February 2014

EAC single tourist visa launched


East African heads (L-R) Rwanda’s Paul Kagame,
 East African heads (L-R) Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni in Munyonyo yesterday.


KAMPALA- Tourists visiting Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda will now need a single instead of multiple visas to tour the three East African countries.
This followed the launch of the East African Tourist Visa by the regional heads of states yesterday in Kampala where President Museveni, in his remarks took a swipe at the international community for contemptuously lecturing him on homosexual matters.
Mr Museveni said regional integration will not only provide formidable markets but also politically strengthen East Africa.
He gave an example of how the international community is mounting pressure on him not to sign the anti-gay Bill into law as a move by the Western powers to belittle weak nations.
“We (Uganda) are being given lectures on homosexuals because we are weak,” Mr Museveni said. He continued: “How can you start lecturing an old man with a bald head on how to run his home? This is my house I know how to run it—this is contempt.”
According to Mr Museveni, the strength of East Africans does not lie in the numerous tribes and religion but in the huge markets that the integration presents.
Together with President Paul Kagame and Uhuru Kenyatta, they launched the tourist regional visa that will reduce bureaucracies involved in getting multiple visas.
Burundi and Tanzania which were formerly left out of the regional infrastructure projects, were this time represented and in their communication they noted the need for all the EAC partner states to move on the same page.
“Burundi fully supports the integration infrastructure projects and it’s a right of Burundi to take an active role in this process. We need to be involved in all the technical and political decisions,” the second Vice President of Burundi, Mr Gervas Rufyikiri, said in his communication yesterday.
While the Tanzanian Vice President, Mr Mohammad Gharib Bilal, said his country though willing, will be observing the developments closely as it unfolds.
South Sudan, which has applied to join the EAC, called on the regional leaders to condemn the resumption of fighting in the world’s newest nation.
South Sudan Foreign Minister, Benjamin Marial Barnaba said more than 500,000 people have been displaced. And 800,000 have sought refuge in Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.
Mr Barnaba told the summit the Presence of Ugandan troops in South Sudan should be appreciated and not condemned. International Community is opposed to UPDF continued presence in South Sudan where they have been fighting alongside South Sudan government forces.
President Kenyatta said the single regional tourist visa marks the beginning of free movement of goods and person in the regional.
The Rwandan President, Mr Paul Kagame whose country spearheaded the establishment of regional single tourist visa, said its launch was important illustration of commitment to integration process.