South Sudan Joins East Africa Bloc

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South Sudan has been admitted into the East African Community (EAC), increasing the membership of the bloc to six.

South Sudan Flag

By Ariik Atekdit

JUBA, 03 March 2016 [Gurtong]– South Sudan was admitted on Wednesday at the ongoing 17th Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State in Arusha Tanzania.

According to the treaty establishing the EAC, new members can only be admitted if they respect the principles of democracy, rule of law, accountability, transparency and social justice.

The treaty also says the countries must, besides being geographically near any of the existing members, practice "equal opportunities, gender equality as well as the recognise, promote and protect rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights."

In 2011, immediately after its independence, South Sudan applied to join the bloc. It has taken nearly 5 years to completely get acceded.

Dr Barnaba Marial Benjamin, the South Sudan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation was in the summit to witness the historic admission of South Sudan to the East Africa Community.

South Sudan’s admission was delayed due to what the old members of the EAC called as weakness of institutions in South Sudan that include: human rights abuse, lack of democracy in the system, rule of law, accountability and transparency.

Majority of youths in South Sudan agree that it is in the general interest of South Sudanese to join the EAC, however they added that early adhesion to the organization will be good for nothing for a country that has not equipped itself to compete with nations that have decades of years with their independence.

“It is not for the benefit of the mere citizens of South Sudan. This is for political gain for may be the few elites in the country. We have no human capital to compete with other members of East Africa Community. Moreover, what do we produce to sell to EAC markets? We have no vision that could find out the merits and demerits of joining EAC,” expressed Samuel Akol.

Mr. Kim Peter suggested that South Sudan should have waited to reactivate its agriculture before joining the region that will solely exploit the new nation and its people.

Mawien Maring said that there are more disadvantages than advantages for South Sudan’s joining the East Africa Community and that nullification of the decision suggests better.

The Spokesperson in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Mawien Makol has praised that South Sudan will benefit from the East African experts in the fields of education, health services and other technical qualifications that the young country lacks.

South Sudan has an estimated population of over 12 million people out of which only 20 percent is literate while the remaining 80 percent are illiterate, however, even with low percentage of educated population already many youth who are graduates are not employed and unemployment rate is growing rapidly. 

“South Sudan is too young to join EAC and there will be more disadvantages compared to benefits. Our youth will hardly find jobs and our local companies cannot be contracted as the other 5 member States will dominate the region markets and block away South Sudan even in its own markets,” Santino Majok revealed.

Wani Legge said, “I know many of these East Africans will soon pretend to be South Sudanese. We should not be surprised that they will work with us here as ministers and director generals in the name of experts. This country should learn to think first before actions. Citizens and the general intellectual population were not consulted to debate.”

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