Kenya: Leaders to Reject Juba, Somalia EAC Bids
East African Head of State are likely to reject Somalia and South Sudan’s applications to become part of the East African Community (EAC) when they meet on November 30 for the 14th Heads of State Summit in Nairobi.
Since November 19, senior government officials drawn from the five partner states have been meeting in Nairobi to deliberate on various issues related to the integration. EAC Minister Musa Sirma said that the war-torn countries qualify on grounds of sharing borders with Kenya, but they score low on their human rights records and political stability.
“We tasked a verification team which went to the countries to evaluate if they fit the criteria, and they will present the report today (Monday) to the council and later give recommendations to the Heads of State,” he said.
He explained that the team held several meetings with the governments of South Sudan and Somalia officials, including ministers, deputy ministers, undersecretaries, the national legislative assembly, the Judiciary and civil society and private sector representatives.
“In considering South Sudan’s application, it may be noted that out of the country’s total landmass of 660,000 square kilometres, 35 percent is under forest cover while only four percent of the land is utilised for agricultural activities despite the vast expanse of arable land,” he said.
He noted that the agricultural activities are mainly subsistence small-holdings with a few varieties of crops and the livestock population is estimated to be between 10-15 million with a similar number of sheep and goats.
“There are three options for the prospective countries. One is to be admitted as full members; the second is to be admitted as an associate member; and thirdly is to be admitted as an observer,” he explained.
South Sudan submitted its bid late last year while Somalia submitted its application in February this year and Sirma emphasised that they there’s a good chance they’ll reject the two countries although they need more nations to join the EAC in order to foster competition, gain access to wider markets through trade, allow for larger and diversified investments and production, provide socioeconomic and political stability as well as bargaining power for the member countries.
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