Tanzania maintains position on land ownership issue THISDAY REPORTER & AGENCIES Dar es Salaam TANZANIA has stood its ground on sticky issues regarding land acquisition, travel documents and permanent residence in the latest negotiations aimed at establishing the East African Community (EAC) Common Market. The new round of talks between experts, which ended in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Thursday this week failed to reach a consensus on several outstanding matters. Julius Onen, deputy secretary-general of the EAC in charge of projects and programmes told Xinhua news agency in an interview that negotiators from Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya agreed to forward the outstanding issues to the EAC summit scheduled for the end of this month. We expect that when the summit meets on April 29, it should be able to give it (draft protocol) the blessing, he said noting that the negotiators had agreed on 98 per cent of the draft protocol. The negotiations which have been running since March 30 were attended by, among others, permanent secretaries and ministers in charge of East African affairs from the partner states. While the four countries agreed on the draft protocol aimed at establishing the EAC Common Market by January 2010, Tanzania failed to reach a consensus with others. The country insisted that national identity cards should not be accepted as travel documents within the community because they are not internationally recognized. Instead, Tanzania advocated for the use of national passports or the East African passports, which could be difficult for residents to obtain. The other four countries failed to agree with Tanzania on a common position on land acquisition. Tanzania argued that the issue of land is sensitive, which often triggers civil conflicts due to unequal distribution, as members have different land policies and tenure systems. The others believed that land is an important factor of production and therefore a Common Market issue. Tanzania disagreed with other countries which favoured a flexible citizenship, in which a national of a member state who resides in another partner state for a particular period of time automatically acquires citizenship of that country. Tanzania said the issue of permanent residence is not provided for in its Constitution and is a sovereignty issue. The formation of a Common Market is the second step in the regions integration process before a monetary union and eventually a political federation. The region has already installed a Customs Union which came into force in January 2005. According to documents prepared for the five-day negotiations, issues of different land ownership system and the common ID card adoption remain to be solved among member states. Land is owned by the government in Tanzania while it could be property of individuals in Uganda. Four countries opt for national ID cards as travel documents, unlike Tanzania, which prefers national or the East African passport. Onen said an EAC summit set for April 29 is to endorse the final protocol which will then come into force on January 1, 2010. The formation of a common market will pave way for a monetary union and finally a political federation. EAC has already adopted a customs union. The Tanzanian government has maintained that it would not sign the EAC Common Market Protocol later this month if the document does not meet its expectations.