The East African Legislative Assembly speaker Margaret Zziwa has revealed that the East African Community will this year start the process of admitting Somalia and South Sudan.
While speaking at the opening of the assembly’s Kampala session today, Zziwa said that the EAC shall send the verification teams into the two countries to ascertain their applications to join the regional block and called upon the applicants to work on the restoration of peace.
The announcement comes at a time when South Sudan is battling tribal conflicts with President Salva Kiir’s forces fighting with the rebels led by his former deputy, Dr Riek Machar. Zziwa argues that admitting the two troubled countries will minimise conflicts in their countries saying that South Sudanese will quit looking at themselves as Dinkas or Nuers but as South Sudanese in an integrated EAC.
Minister for East African Community Affairs Shem Bagaine said that before the hostilities broke out in South Sudan, teams were sent there and were set to enter into the verification stage adding that the conflicts won’t stop the process. The chair of the council of ministers Phyllis Jepkosgei Kandie said that EAC would be better off admitting those countries so that it actively participates in solving their problems because having war-torn neighbours will not enhance the community.
She said one cannot be safe when the neighbours are at war adding that since one doesn’t choose neighbours, it is in the Community’s best interest to ensure that the neighbours are at peace.
South Sudan and the Republic of Somalia applied to be admitted in the community in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Somalia has itself been at war since the overthrow of long time President Siad Barre 22 years ago. Uganda is among the countries that have troops in Somalia as an African Union Peace-keepig force. Other troop contributors include Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Burundi.