Block South Sudan from EAC, traders say
Posted Tuesday, November 5 2013 at 02:00
Kampala- As experts from the East African Community meet in Arusha later this week to discuss South Sudan’s application to join the EAC, a team of Ugandan traders has filed a petition seeking to block the country from joining the bloc.
The traders, under their umbrella organisation, the Uganda Traders Association of South Sudan, lodged a case in the East Africa Court of Justice saying South Sudan does not meet the set criteria for admission, provided for in the EAC Treaty of 1999.
The traders seek court to “order the respondents not to grant membership to South Sudan into the EAC”.
One of the conditions for admission into the EAC, as stipulated in the Article  of the Treaty is “adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy and rule of law, among others”.
However, the traders say South Sudan is yet to achieve the above conditions.
“Contrary to these dictates, South Sudan does not adhere to these principles because the Ugandan traders in South Sudan have been raped, tortured, killed, , and imprisoned without trial,” reads part of the plea.
Reports of maltreatment of foreign traders in South Sudan, at the hands of nationals and state officials, have become a common staple in media reports.
The traders also say they are claiming up to $14.9 million in unpaid dues and compensation for losses incurred in South Sudan.
The governments of Uganda and South Sudan initiated committees to solve this issue, but the claims remain unaddressed.
Mr Dan Ssesanga, one of the traders, told the Daily Monitor that if court blocks South Sudan’s membership, it would show the seriousness of their concerns.
Attempts to get a comment from the embassy of South Sudan were futile as the ambassador’s number went unanswered and other officials could not comment on the matter.
However, Mr Shem Bageine, the state minister for EAC affairs, questioned the court’s authority to deal with such a matter. “I do not know if the EAC court has jurisdiction over such a petition,” the minister said.
In 2011, South Sudan applied to join the EAC. A verification committee was set up and the committee’s report was approved at the Head of State Summit in Nairobi last year.