The Government of South Sudan on Friday signed the treaty establishing the East African Community (EAC), which formalized the country’s membership to the regional bloc.
The signing ceremony was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where presidents Salva Kiir Mayardit, of South Sudan and Dr John Pombe Magufuli, of Tanzania signed the treaty of accession of South Sudan to the community.
“It means they are now full members of the EAC. Among the immediate requirement is abolishing visa requirements for East Africans to enter the country and vice versa by the other EAC member states,” Richard Owora Othieno, the EAC head of corporate communications and public affairs, told The New Times after the ceremony.
According to a communiqué from the EAC secretariat, the two leaders met and signed the Treaty of accession “in a warm and cordial atmosphere.”
“Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli thanked H.E. General Salva Kiir Mayardit for taking the initiative to formally apply for membership to the East African Community in less than four months after the country attained independence,” adds the statement.
The heads of state noted that the entry of South Sudan into the East African Community was for the benefit of the entire region, it reads.
Magufuli is the current Chairperson of the Community Heads of State Summit.
The decision to admit South Sudan as the sixth member of the regional bloc was agreed upon during EAC Heads of State Summit held in Arusha, Tanzania in March, after years of negotiations.
The EAC statement further notes that during the signing ceremony, Kiir observed that South Sudan’s admission into the Community was the fulfillment of a dream held by the country’s forefathers more than 50 years ago, adding that “it marked a decisive shift in the country’s foreign and economic policy.”
Accordingly, Magufuli directed the EAC Secretariat to urgently develop a roadmap for fast-tracking the integration of South Sudan into the activities, programmes and projects of the Community.
South Sudan still needs support to be able to gradually implement all the requisite membership instruments. In March, provisions that were part of its admission include a transition period of three years before implementing the Customs Union.
Juba was also allowed three years to move toward full implementation of the Common Market Protocol.
South Sudan applied to join the EAC on June 10, 2011.
The admission of Africa’s youngest nation to the EAC means that the bloc’s market size is now 162 million people, up from 145.5 million.Follow https://twitter.com/KarhangaJames