Some members of the South Sudan National Assembly (SSNA) and of the ruling party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said the country’s move to joining East African Community (EAC) now is not a priority and the right time.
The legislatures said that South Sudan lags behind in all aspects; politically, socially and economically. The country should first set up its democratic institutions that stand as structures for the country’s independence before joining the community. The MPs also vowed to push a motion in the August House for parliament to clearly define its position on the move that it is not a priority.
“It’s a good idea for the Republic of South Sudan to join EAC, but this is not the right time and priority for this Republic,” vocal and outspoken SPLM Youth Chairperson, Mr. Akol Paul Kordit told Gurtong yesterday at the SSNA.
“South Sudan should first build its economy, fight poverty, elevate the livelihood of its people to a better standard and build democratic institutions. We have a lot of home work to do first before we go to regional competition,” Kordit added.
He said that the country lags behind in all fields compared to the now members of the EAC. Kordit said that, it has no exports besides oil which is estimated to deplete after six to ten years of exploration. He also said that the infant nation lacks capacity to compete economically with the EAC.
Mr. Lual A. Deng, SPLM Member of Parliament, an economist and former Sudanese oil Minister stressed that the need for South Sudan to address its key problems that hinder growth and prosperity before intensifying the move to join the EAC.
However Mr. Lual emphasized on the need to fight corruption as a key factor that will make the country addresses some of the issues hindering the economy and lagging behind.
“We need to address the issue of corruption and turn our fight against it into practice because corruption discourages investment,” Lual said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Thomas Kundu, Senior SPLM member at the SSNA also stressed the need for South Sudan to address insecurity as one of the challenges that affects the economic growth of the infant nation.
Unconfirmed reports in the media say South Sudan has already submitted its application to join the EAC, a decision taken by the national executive body and formalized by President Salva Kiir mid last month when he visited East Africa and met the two Presidents, H.E Mwai Kibaki and Yuweri Museveni of Kenya and Uganda respectively.
South Sudan got independence on July 9th 2011 breaking away from the larger Sudan after more than two decades of civil war; when the country had been marginalized in all aspects. The country is currently faced with critical challenges ranging from food security, insecurity, poor infrastructure and illiteracy besides high maternal mortality rate.
South Sudan is estimated to have over 70% of its population illiterate.