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Somalia, S.Sudan await admission to the EAC

Storyline:National News

Talks on the admission of South Sudan into the East African Community are set to take centre stage at the EAC Heads of State Summit scheduled for February 20 in Nairobi.
Also top on the agenda is the verification of an application by the war-torn Federal Republic of Somalia to join the five-member regional economic bloc.
South Sudan charge d’affaires in Nairobi, James Morgan said the process of the oil-rich nation’s membership to EAC is ongoing and Juba has continued to engage with the EAC Secretariat.
“What happened is that there was a coup and this can happen to any EAC member. That does not make a country bad. However, as an applicant, we cannot be expected to evaluate ourselves. It is up to the EAC members to decide whether we have met the conditions,” Morgan told The EastAfrican last week.
South Sudan gained Independence on July 9 2011 following a referendum in which the citizens overwhelmingly voted for total autonomy from Sudan. The referendum, conducted in January 2011, was one of the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in 2005. The CPA ended one of Africa’s longest civil wars.
The 1999 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.
The EAC members rejected South Sudan’s bid in December 2012 because of its periodic conflict with neighbouring Sudan. The lack of a democratic culture that has seen the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) run roughshod over other political parties, could also have dented the young nation’s chance.
Now, the country has a full blown civil war that leaves little chance of its being considered, given that many crimes against humanity and war crimes have taken place since December 2014. There is also little chance that the proposed June 30 elections will meet international standards.
Somalia, which has also endured long periods of instability and insecurity, is hoping that the EAC member countries will allow it into the Community.
Somalia’s ambassador to Kenya, Mohamed Ali Noor exuded confidence that the country was considered a prime candidate to the EAC following a raft of key initiatives that he believes have lifted the country’s profile in the eyes of the international community.
Mr Noor said that, for the first time in 20 years, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Council of Ministers meeting was held in Mogadishu on January 10 with a view to restoring peace and stability in the country.
“We believe that it is now time to join the EAC. Since that IGAD meeting, peace is coming back to Somalia and there is prosperity and construction,” he said.
Mr Noor said about 900 Somali refugees from Kenya have gone back to Somalia in the past three months, following the signing of a tripartite agreement on the repatriation of Somali refugees by the two countries in 2013.
During the 16th Summit of the EAC Heads of State the presidents of the five member countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi) will initiative a constitution making process and a roadmap for the establishment of a political federation.
They will also review the process towards the establishment of a One Network Area for the EAC. “We are ready to host this summit. We have put all the arrangements in place,” said John Konchellah, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in-charge of EAC affairs.
By James Anyanzwa and Fred Oluoch