Source: The Monitor (Kampala)
Opinion By Cris Magoba
On March 2, 2016, the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State launched the new generation EAC e-passport and directed that its issuance takes effect from January 1, 2017. The Heads of State further directed that the partner states should implement a phase out programme for the East African and national passports from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018.
However, owing to procurement rigours, issuance could not start as per the directive. Currently, all partner states save for the Republic of South Sudan, are issuing the new generation EAC e-passport.
A regional passport is obviously not a new development in the EAC. In fact, the East African passport predates the current EAC. While the EAC was revived in 1999 upon the signing of the Treaty, the first EAC passport was launched in November 1998. This was by the Permanent Tripartite Commission for East African cooperation, a precursor to current EAC.
Thus, since 1998, citizens from the EAC countries have been able to access a special travel document, which allows them to travel with ease within the regional bloc. Its use was however, limited because it was not recognised internationally, meaning that it was not accepted as a travel document beyond East Africa.
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