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Uhuru thanks EAC leaders for support after JKIA fire

08 August 2013, 07:41 PSCU

Nairobi - President Uhuru Kenyatta thanked East African leaders for their support following the fire incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday morning.

He noted that his counterparts in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi were among the first leaders to send messages of encouragement to Kenyans when a section of the airport caught fire.

Uhuru expressed satisfaction that regional leaders fully backed the integration process.

“Regional integration is probably the best thing that has happened since the independence of our states,” President Kenyatta said.

He was speaking at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani when he opened the 7th edition of the East African Military Games and Cultural Events. The games bring together more than 700 military sportsmen and women from the five East African Community (EAC) member states.

The President said the joint military games are an important tool of integration and urged soldiers to be good ambassadors of their respective countries.

President Kenyatta praised the military for their discipline, professionalism and patriotism.

“I can assure you that our governments appreciate your patriotism. We will always provide resources and support you in fostering peace and solidarity in the region and Africa at large,” the President told the soldiers.

He acknowledged the dedication of EAC Chiefs of Defence Forces in ensuring regional cooperation in defence. He noted that following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation, the military have put in place elaborate initiatives geared towards confidence building and solidarity of the region’s defence forces.

“I have no doubt in my mind that the MoU on cooperation in defence is one of the most successful programmes in EAC integration,” he said.

Uhuru said cooperation in defence would enable the region overcome security challenges including terrorism, poaching and cattle rustling and emphasized that the prevailing peace in the region should be safeguarded.

He welcomed the planned introduction of a common Identity Card by EAC, saying the move would remove restrictions and boost cross border trade.

“In any case, history shows that the East African Community has been one region with the indigenous populace sharing common ancestral ties with no prohibition in the movement of people and goods,” the President said.

Speaking during the occasion, EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera said East African Community member states have decided to fast-track to implementation of projects in the region.

He cited removal of roadblocks and rationalization of the use of weighbridges as an example of Kenya’s determination to promote regional integration.

The EAC Secretary General said the region is moving towards discarding legal hurdles that limit the movement of goods and increase the cost of doing business.

The military games, which include cross-country, soccer, handball, basketball, netball and soccer, will run for the next 10 days.

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