The East African Community has forgiven South Sudan for her debt in annual membership contributions to the bloc. The country owed the then seven-member bloc about 36 million US Dollars, a situation President Salva Kiir attributed to the implementation of the peace process back home.
Kiir, the new Chairperson of the EAC, said that South Sudan strongly believes in the ability of the bloc to address the common challenges that face the region and Africa. He thanked the Summit for waiving arrears to the bloc accrued by South Sudan over the years and disclosed that South Sudan would henceforth remit its annual contributions on a timely basis.
Juba immediately cleared the outstanding 15.5 million Dollars and is currently the most up-to-date regarding payment of the annual fee. This now leaves Burundi the most indebted with 15.5 million US Dollars, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo – which is yet to remit any since its admissions – with 14.5 million US Dollars, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.
This came at the 23rd Ordinary Meeting of the Heads of State, which also approved the administration of the Federal Republic of Somalia as the eighth member of the bloc. The Summit further designated the Chairperson of the Summit, Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan, to agree with Somalia on when to sign the Treaty of Accession of Somalia into the Community.
The Summit further directed Somalia too, within six months after the signing of the Treaty of Accession, to deposit the instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General. They directed the Council of Ministers to develop a roadmap for the integration of Somalia into the Community and report progress to the next meeting of the Summit.
Speaking shortly after the Summit admitted his country into the bloc, Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud described the decision as a historic one, adding that the move will be mutually beneficial for both Somalia and the EAC.
President Mohamud said that Somalia brings to the bloc her rich culture, heritage and strategic location with 3,000 miles along the Indian Ocean coastline, adding that Somalia would create an environment conducive to trade and prosperity within its national borders.
He said that Somalia belongs to EAC with all Partner States linked to his country through historical, cultural and linguistic bonds, even as he added that Somalia’s borders would be bridges as opposed to barriers for trade.
On the ongoing national consultations for the Drafting of the Constitution of the EAC Political Confederation, the Summit called upon Tanzania, Rwanda and DR Congo to conclude the consultations process by May 30, 2024.
On the Sustainable Financing Model for the Community, the Summit agreed on a 65 per cent (Equal Contribution) and 35 per cent (Assessed Contributions) financing formula.
The Summit further directed the Council of Ministers to pursue strategic spending rationalisation measures, institutional strengthening and strict sanctions for the defaulting Partner States and report to the 24th Summit.
On the security situation in eastern DRC, President Kiir said that the solution to the crisis lies in negotiations between the government of DRC and the rebel groups operating in the area.
He urged EAC Heads of State to remain committed to the Nairobi Process on the restoration of peace in eastern DRC.