Kenya’s representative to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) Suleiman Shahbal has said security and economy will be his main agenda following his election as the chairman of Communication, Trade and Investment at the regional assembly.
Mr Shabhal noted that security and economy are mutually related and therefore key areas of interest for the region that is in the process of seeking a common currency and political federation.
“I am honored and delighted to be elected Chairman of this great committee in Eala. I take this opportunity to sincerely thank my fellow Eala MPs from Kenya and the entire region for their support and confidence to have me lead this crucial committee,” Mr Shabhal said after his election.
The 63-member Eala has seven member states- Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and South Sudan.
Each of the member states elect nine representatives to the regional parliament to serve for a term of five years renewable once.
One of the key functions of the prestigious and powerful committee that Mr Shabhal now chairs is to oversight work and activities of the sectoral committee of the EAC and the organs charged with implementation of provisions in the leadership.
He said the election was an honour to Kenya as it is an opportunity for the country to spearhead the process of strengthening regional relationships, improving trade ties, and exploring investment opportunities.
The Eala legislator said the East African region has a lot of commonalities and shared interests on security and economic matters.
“Our export markets are not just our East African markets, our export markets have to be outside. We need to invigorate and start our special economic zones and this is something I have been talking about for the last 10 years. My first priority will be to push the region’s economic agenda to the end,” he said.
The new EALA members were sworn in December 2022 to start their five years of the fifth assembly at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania since its reestablishment in 2001.
Mr Shabhal said there is a need to focus on increasing “our exports rather than let regional restrictions hinder progress and if necessary, we should drag the local economies with us.”
The Eala MP said for the economy to grow the security of the region must be ensured with all regional representatives playing an active role in maintaining it.
“We have seen the efforts that Kenya has put in to ensure DRC regains peace. Similar efforts are what we need from all member states in ensuring there is smooth cross-border trade as we work toward looking for collaborative investment opportunities,” he said.