Regime Change and its Implications on East Africa Community
Mbithi, Carolyne Karimi
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The study’s overall aim is to investigate the implications that regime change has in enhancing the unification of the East African region. Since independence Kenya has had four heads of State and the first president is credited for establishing the political framework for the current EAC, the second spearheaded the Agreement for the establishment of the Permanent Tripartite Commission for EA co-operation hence the re-birth of the EAC integration process. During the tenure of the third president, the Customs Union Agreement was shaped hence clearing way for a Common Market. In the current regime, the forth head of State signed the Common Monetary Union Protocol. The objectives of the study are; to analyse the role(s) that heads of State in Kenya can play to ensure East African integration, to examine the effects of heads of State transition in Kenya on regional integration in East Africa and to establish what the current regime in Kenya can do to speed up the process of achieving a fully integrated East African region. In this study, the Hegemonic Stability theory that is based on the presence of a hegemony that ensures stability of the international system and the Structural Functionalism theory which factors a society as a complex system that constitutes of segments that work together with an intent of achieving a set goal, were used. Descriptive survey design was used in the study. The target population for the study was officers in the Ministry of East African Community, Labour and Social Protection, Political Scientists, serving and retired ambassadors. Stratified Random sampling was used to obtain a sample size of 130 respondents. Data was collected by use of self-structured questionnaires as well individual interview schedules. Analysis of the qualitative data was done by use of both the framework analysis and thematic analysis approaches while the quantitative data was analysed by use of data master sheets and tally sheets. The study reveals that in the past regimes, each of the heads of State in Kenya have made significant impact towards pushing forth the integration agenda. 79.2% stated that the first president’s effort towards integration was effective, 34.9% rated the second president as effective, the third president was rated at 48.1% while 40.1% rated the effectiveness of the current president towards regional integration. The study found out that heads of State play a significant role towards regional integration. They promote integration policies as presented by 75.5% of the respondents. The head of State safeguards the common values, fundamental interests and independence of the community. The head of State should also spearhead the harmonization of monetary and fiscal policies. The study further found that it is crucial for the head of State to actively participate in consultative meetings that promote the regional integration agenda and present the interests of the country at the EAC. Kenya’s main national interest in the EAC is economic growth and development and as represented by 82.1% of the respondents, it is key for the Head of State to actively participate in the summit by advancing the need for the country to attain a larger regional market for her goods and products hence uplifting the living standards of the Kenyan citizens. The study concluded that the EAC state governments can steer efforts towards integration as long as there is a will to plough in more resources which will go along with creating a friendly environment of trade between and among member states, hence realization of mutual benefit in member states in creation of opportunities for their citizens. It was also concluded that previous heads of State in Kenya have endeavoured to push for the regional integration agenda to some extent, but none has fully overseen the implementation of all agreed integration policies. The study recommends that heads of State should consider giving significant weight to interests that reflect on regional integration and not focusing mostly on national interest, it is also prudent for Kenya to conform with the regional integration laws especially on set tariffs in order to promote trade. A study that focuses on the political stability in regard to regional integration is recommended since this study only focused on the role(s) of the head of State in regional integration.