The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Dr Richard Sezibera, is in South Sudan to oversee negotiations to allow the new state to join the bloc.
The meeting, which started on Tuesday in Juba, is meant to help the EAC secretariat gain a better understanding of South Sudan’s preparations as well as provide government officials with valuable guidance on the way forward as regards the negotiations.
In a communication issued to the Daily Monitor, Dr Sezibera, said: “The purpose of the mission is to share with government officials what needs to be done as the country (South Sudan) prepares to start the negotiation to join the EAC.”
Earlier this year, South Sudan had negotiations halted because of the instabilities that broke out in this country.
South Sudan joining the EAC is destined to widen the regional market by 11 million to the current 140 from the current five member states.
EAC member states like Uganda and Kenya stand to benefit most from South Sudan which gives them a big market. Currently, Uganda and Kenya’s annual exports to South Sudan are valued at more than $200 million (Shs504 billion) and $180 million (Shs453.6 billion) respectively.
The Republic of South Sudan applied to join the EAC on June 10, 2011. A Verification Committee from the bloc then visited the country from July 15 to 31, 2012 with the aim of establishing the level of conformity. This is in line with the Criteria for Admission of Foreign Countries into the East African Community as provided for under Article 3 of the Treaty Establishing the EAC.
Based on recommendation of the report by the Verification Committee, the EAC heads of state summit in November 2012 directed the Council of Ministers to negotiate the admission of South Sudan, putting into consideration the provision of the EAC Treaty on the criteria for joining the Community.
Based on the Summit directive, the EAC Council of Ministers established a high level negotiation team which is ready to start the negotiation process with the Republic of South Sudan.
To initiate this process on the side of South Sudan, President Salva Kiir appointed a high level committee on March 13, 2014 to oversee South Sudan’s accession to the EAC. The committee has started its work by undertaking several preparatory activities for the negotiations.
levels of conformity
South Sudan has met the conditions of acceptance into the bloc which include: Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.