‘Stability, democracy or no EAC for Somali and South Sudan’

South Sudan and Somalia may not be allowed into the East African Community unless they return to stability and adopt democracy, EAC Chair President Jakaya Kikwete has hinted.
While delivering the State of EAC Address in Bujumbura on Thursday last week, President Kikwete said democracy, good governance, human rights and rule of law are critical tenets of the EAC.
“Better governed member states contribute to a prosperous region… badly governed states frustrate integration. It impedes trade, co-operation, as well as movement of people, goods, services and capital. Moreover, it deters investment and makes the region an unfavourable destination for investment and trade,” said President Kikwete
South Sudan has been pushing to be admitted to the EAC since 2011, soon after it obtained Independence from Sudan. 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.
At the EAC Heads of State Summit in Nairobi on February 20, the five presidents agreed that the final negotiations on the bid by South Sudan to join the community should begin between March and August 2015 despite its current security situation.
The EAC heads of state have been at the forefront in calling for an immediate end to hostilities in South Sudan.
In December 2012, EAC members rejected South Sudan’s application, citing its periodic conflict with neighbouring Sudan, not holding democratic elections and lack of a democratic culture.
At the time, Tanzania was concerned about Juba’s nascent economic institutions and its post-war reconstruction programmes. Tanzania felt that the country was not ready to join the Community.
Compared with Burundi, which was admitted into the bloc shortly after a 13-year civil war without meeting all the criteria, but had conducted its first peaceful elections in 2005, South Sudan has not held any democratic elections.
However, the country is banking on the many business and social links it has with EAC partner states, especially Kenya and Uganda.
According to President Kikwete, as the election date approaches in Burundi, the political leaders must respect the Arusha Accord, the country’s constitution and electoral laws as the key to the country’s stability.
Source: East Africa

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