EAC to assess Juba’s application
The 10th Extraordinary Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State that convenes on Saturday in Arusha, Tanzania, will, among other issues, examine South Sudan’s application to join the regional coalition.
Regional ministers in charge of EAC affairs Wednesday set up a joint verification committee to probe if South Sudan meets the criteria to join the bloc.
Monique Mukaruliza, Minister in charge of EAC Affairs, told The New Times that if Juba meets the requirements, a negotiating team will be created to discuss the criteria of joining the other five member countries.
Chances of Juba joining the bloc are high as it meets some requirements like proximity. It is noteworthy that the world’s newest state is always invited to attend ongoing EAC meetings as an observer, something many view as sign to enable it to be familiar with integration issues.
The EAC treaty sets out conditions for membership, including adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
It stipulates that for a country to be allowed membership, it should be able to contribute towards the strengthening of integration within the region; geographical proximity between it and partner states and establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy.
In an interview, Prof. Celestin Nyirishema, an economist at the Kigali Independent University (ULK) said South Sudan should be admitted as a member, adding that it offers more economic opportunities to the region.
“South Sudan has a lot of economic benefits for the region. Look at the raw materials like oil, land and forests that could benefit our people. I think what is needed is to complete all those negotiations to enable it join the community,” he commented.
The Director of the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), Prof. Peter Rwanyindo Ruzirabwoba, noted that South Sudan should join the community to rein in the political insurgencies hindering its development.
“The country has many political and economic problems, especially with Khartoum. South Sudan cannot get out of the insurgencies without getting other supporters from the region. It would be better to have a combined strong voice instead of one. If it becomes the sixth partner state, nobody can threaten our security,” he told The New Times.
He urged EAC member countries to first look at how to intervene and help Juba get out of its war predicament and focus on what is beneficial.
Other countries that have shown a strong interest in joining the community include Sudan, Somalia as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, recently, during the Heads of State summit in Bujumbura, Burundi, rejected Khartoum’s application on the grounds that the latter did not meet the community’s requirements as stipulated in the treaty.
The summit will also consider the appointment of a new Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation from Uganda and the renewal of Jean Claude Nsengiyumva’s tenure as Deputy Secretary General, Productive and Social Sectors.
The presidents are also expected to consider a report of the Council of Ministers on the proposed attainment of a single customs territory.
Contact email: eric.kabeera[at]newtimes.co.rw