Somalia and South Sudan will have to wait longer to join the East African Community, according to a communique.“The earliest they can be admitted to the regional bloc is next year,” said a statement issued afterthe 16th Heads of State Summit that ended in Nairobi on Friday evening.
South Sudan’s bid to join the community suffered a setback following the break out of a civil war pitting forces loyal to sacked Vice-President Riek Machar against those supporting President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
East Africa Community (EAC) Secretary-General Richard Sezibera said the verification of Somalia’s request is yet to start. He said preparations with the government of Somalia have not been finalised.
“The summit directed the Council of Ministers to handle the matter and report back at the next summit,” he added.
President Kiir attended the summit as a guest.
TOOK OVER CHAIRMANSHIP
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete suggested that South Sudan would soon be a member of the community.
Mr Kikwete took over the chairmanship from President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Presidents Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) and Yoweri Museveni (Uganda) attended the summit at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre.
In order to create a political federation in the future, the Heads of State directed the Council of Ministers to finalise an action plan on the drafting of a constitution.
The summit also signed a protocol to expand the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice to include trade and investment disputes. It must be ratified by November 30.
Concern was raised over some decisions agreed upon since 2001 that are yet to be implemented.
Kenya has implemented 75 per cent, Rwanda 75.5 per cent, Tanzania 66 per cent, Uganda and Burundi 52.1 per cent.