The 23rd Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers concluded on Friday in Arusha with the ministers agreeing to leave Sudan’s entry into the bloc to the Heads of State Summit.
The summit of East African Heads of State is slated for November this year in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The council pointed out that the decision to admit countries to the Community is the mandate of the Summit observing that the Sudan’s request would be submitted to the Summit for consideration.
This follows a letter by the Sudanese President, Omar Bashir requesting that his country joins the five-member East African Community.
Article 3 (3) of the EAC Treaty sets out conditions for membership including adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
For a country to be allowed as member, it should also be able to contribute towards the strengthening of integration within the region; geographical proximity to and inter -dependence between it and the partner states besides establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy.
Reports indicate that the Republic of Sudan does not meet the basic criterion as stipulated in the Treaty mentioning this as the reason why the regional ministers referred the matter to last final decision- making body, the Summit.
Some of the criterion to which Sudan did not conform to, include geographical proximity.
Monique Mukaruriza, the EAC minister noted the Sudan’s application to join the bloc is a critical issue that cannot be resolved by ministers.
“We discussed that issue and we had different opinions and hence we decided to refer it to the summit to guide us. For now, we will have to wait for the summit,” she observed.
She added that if the summit responds positively, an assessment mission would be sent to Sudan to consult the nationals on their impression of joining the bloc.
In June, Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir wrote to the chairperson of the EAC Summit, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza, expressing interest to have his country join the bloc.