Monday, September 03, 2012
By Zephania Ubwani
Arusha. The East African Community (EAC) partner states will make further consultations on the applications of South Sudan and Somalia to join the bloc, it was announced here yesterday.
The Council of Ministers, which is the policy organ of the Community, has decided that the two countries' bids submitted late last year and early 2012, needed more time for consideration among the five member states.
"Some partner states needed more time to consult with all stakeholders on the report of the Verification Committee on the application by South Sudan", the EAC said in a statement at the end of the 25th Council of Ministers meeting in Bujumbura.
On the application by war-torn Somalia, the ministers went further, saying the matter called for "proper timing and wider consultations with other international players involved in the Somalia peace initiatives".
The report of a verification team sent to Juba last July to assess South Sudan's preparedness to join EAC will be submitted to the next Council of Ministers meeting in November this year, it was agreed.
However, the Council directed the EAC secretary general to submit the application by Mogadishu to the next EAC Heads of State Summit. The ministers insisted that much as enlarging the Community to include Somalia may contribute to regional peace, security, stability and development, the issue needed proper timing and deeper consultations.
The strife-torn Somalia submitted its application to join the EAC on February 28th this year. It was handed over to the current EAC Heads of State chair President Mwai Kibaki of Kenya by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
However, in considering the bid, the Council was cognizant of the transitional nature of governance of the Horn of Africa country under the Transitional Federal Government.
Also taken into consideration was the on-going pacification of efforts, including the Kampala Accord regarding the Regional Political Peace Initiative and the African Union initiatives such as the involvement of the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM).
South Sudan's application had appeared to make some progress folllowing the dispatch of an 18 person verification team from the EAC Secretariat and the partner states to Juba recently.
The team was in Africa's newest nation, which broke off from Sudan last year, from July 15th to 31st July to verify the country's application.
The overall objective of the Verification exercise was to establish the South Sudan‘s level of conformity with the Criteria for Admission of Foreign Countries into the EAC as provided under Article 3 of the EAC Treaty.
However, the EAC partner states; Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda, noted that some Partner States still needed more time to consult on the verification report with all the key stakeholders.