East African leaders meeting in Burundian capital, Bujumbura, yesterday, considered and rejected an earlier application by the republic of Sudan to join the East African Community (EAC).
According to the EAC Secretary General, the North African state does not meet requirements set out in the Treaty establishing the Community.
“The summit observed that this application does not meet the criterion on geographical proximity and contiguity and cannot therefore be considered at this point in time,” Amb. Richard Sezibera, said as he read the final communiqué of the 13th Heads of State summit held in Bujumbura.
Sezibera further noted that the summit received a report that the republic of South Sudan, on November 11, 2011, applied to join the block.
“The summit directed the council of ministers to verify this application on the basis of the criteria for admission of foreign countries and submit recommendations to the summit at its tenth extraordinary meeting,” the EAC executive secretary added.
According to the Treaty and the rules on procedure for admission of foreign countries, the criteria requires applicant countries to adhere to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice, among other things.
Applicants must also show potential in contributing to the strengthening of the integration within the east African region, geographical proximity, establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy, and social and economic policies compatible with those of the bloc. After stretched and closed consultations, Presidents Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as well as the vice president of Tanzania, Mohamed Bilal and Rwandan Prime Minister, Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, adopted several reports.
These include; Fears, concerns and challenges on the political federation and a report by the council of ministers on proposed attainment of a single customs territory.
The host and out-going EAC chair person, President Nkurunziza, noted that the past year registered great achievements in strengthening the Customs Union, and the Common Market protocol.
“Let us then join our efforts in deepening and widening integration. When we are fragmented, we are weak; when we are integrated we are stronger.” Nkurunziza said.
The new EAC chair, President Kibaki, told the gathering that the meeting came at a time when the benefits of regional integration have increasingly become apparent.
“The performance of the intra-East African Community trade, for example, has continued on an upward trend over the last five years, rising from about 2 billion US Dollars in 2004 to about three and a half billion US Dollars in 2009,” Kibaki said.
“A closer look at both the exports and imports of each one of the Partner States reveals similar upward trends over the period. This progress has been achieved in partnership with the private sector.”
The new EAC Chairman emphasized the need to further improve the business environment in the region.
“First, there is need to eliminate Non-tariff Barriers that continue to raise the cost of doing business in East Africa significantly. We also need to fast-track the establishment of one-stop border posts at the key border points. These measures will no doubt facilitate trade in the region,” Kibaki said.