As news emerges that Uganda and Tanzania are against the admission of Sudan into the East African Community (EAC), Rwanda has recommended that the largely Arab-nation undergoes the vetting process based on pre-set conditions.
The 13th EAC Heads of States Summit opening Wednesday in Bujumbura, is scheduled to pronounce itself on Sudan’s application, however, Kampala and Dar-es-Salaam have already made their intentions to block Sudan’s entry, clear, citing the practice of the Sharia law and lack of women rights as Sudan’s major undoing.
Rwanda, Kenya and Burundi have endorsed Sudan’s application, noting that the bloc can look at the country’s chances but with Uganda and Tanzania not endorsing it, Khartoum’s ambitions to join the EAC hang in balance.
The Ugandan Minister of EAC affairs Eriya Kategaya told Uganda’s Daily Monitor ahead of the summit that Uganda will not endorse the application citing issues of democracy as the main reason.
“We rejected their application after looking at several issues like their democracy, the way they treat women and their religious politics and we feel they don’t qualify at all,” Kategaya said.
Uganda and Tanzania advocate for out rightly rejecting the bid but Khartoum can only wait for the final decision after the Heads of States summit.
Speaking to The New Times from the Burundian capital, the Rwanda’s Minister of East African Community affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, said that Uganda and Tanzania took the decision at the ministerial level but the Heads of States remain with the final say.
“We debated that issue at the Ministerial level sometime time back. Uganda and Tanzania wanted us to stop Sudan’s admission immediately but the other three countries said that if Sudan was to be admitted or not, the normal procedures should be followed,” Mukaruliza said.
“The EAC treaty sets the conditions for countries to meet before they are admitted. So it is in our belief that an assessment be made before such a decision is taken,”
Mukaruliza, however, added that the pronunciation of the Heads of States Summit will make the decision which will guide the Council of Ministers.
“We can only wait for the position of the Heads of States to guide us on the application, otherwise we already have two sides that are not agreeing. The summit will give us the guidance,”
“We don’t see any reason why an assessment on Sudan to ascertain whether it meets the conditions should not be made,” Mukaruliza said.
Article 3 of the EAC Treaty sets conditions which countries must meet before they are admitted which include sharing of borders to having a market-driven economy and meeting democratic standards.
Rwanda and Burundi underwent the rigorous procedure before being admitted in 2007.