South Sudan joins EAC, single passport approved
The East African Community (EAC) heads of state summit in Arusha, Tanzania has finally resolved to admit South Sudan into the bloc as a sixth member state.
EAC leaders on Wednesday approved a long-time request by African youngest nation during the 17th ordinary summit held at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge on the outskirts of Arusha- Tanzania.
South Sudan joins neighbouring states; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi in the regional economic and political bloc.
The meeting which also extended the chairmanship of Tanzanian president John Magufuli for an additional year, witnessed the approval of single EAC passport for its all six member states.
Presiding over the meeting, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli said the leaders had also appointed Tanzania’s former president Benjamin William Mkapa to work with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in facilitating talks aimed at ending the crisis in Burundi.
“We all have problems within our states but we must work together to seek solutions,” Magufuli stressed.
Ambassador Mohammed Mahound, a career diplomat and analyst in Tanzania said the decision by the EAC to bring South Sudan on board is a good indictor towards uniting the entire continent.
“We should expect seeing Ethiopia and other countries joining the bloc and this is totally maturity,” he told Afrika Reporter.
EAC is a largely economic organisation today, but leaders have indicated that the ultimate goal is to make it a political federation.
The Summit is also expected to deliberate on a report by the Council on the verification exercise for the admission of the Republic of Somalia into the EAC.
According to a statement from the EAC Secretariat, the meeting will discuss various reports by the EAC Council of Ministers.
Some of the reports include: the Model, Structure and Action Plan of the EAC Political Federation; Implementation of the Framework for Harmonized EAC Roaming Charges; Modalities for Promotion of Motor Vehicle Assembly in the region and Reduction of the Importation of Used Motor Vehicles from Outside the Community, and the Promotion of the Textile and Leather Industries in the region, and stopping importation of Used Clothes, Shoes and Other Leather Products from outside the region.
Also scheduled to be launched by the summit is the Private Sector Partnership Fund which is expected to deepen the participation of the private sector in the East African integration.
The Heads of State will also launch the Arusha-Sakina-Tengeru Road which leads to Tengeru One Stop Boarder Post at Holili/Taveta on the Kenya/Tanzania border.
One noticeable absentee from the gathering was Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza. Having narrowly survived an attempted coup last May as he attended a similar summit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, President Nkurunziza has skipped all subsequent EAC summits, and he hasn’t travelled out-side his country as well.