Somalia edges closer to joining EAC

SOMALIA has welcomed the adoption of the “Verification Report” on its application by the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State, which was reviewed and deliberated at the 21st  Extraordinary Summit held on May 31 in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

According to the statement unveiled by Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on Thursday evening, the adoption of the verification report is a noteworthy milestone and a testament that Somalia is ready and fully equipped to join the EAC.

Moreover, the statement reads that Somalia will be a great addition to the EAC sisterly countries and contribute to the integration and prosperity of the region.

“President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Somali government as a whole appreciate the confidence exhibited by the summit to the Somalia application to join EAC and the professionalism shown by the secretariat,” the statement reads in part.

The statement also expounded that; the country has expressed its profound gratitude to the EAC Heads of State for the move.

“Somalia expresses its gratitude and appreciation to the Heads of State and General Secretariat of the East African Community for the communiqué that was made public and reaffirms its determination and desire to engage in productive negotiations that would hasten the EAC’s confirmation of its membership and formal admission,” the statement said.

On January 25th, this year, EAC officially launched the Verification Mission to assess Somalia’s readiness to join the community.

The summit further directed the EAC Secretary and the Council to commence negotiations with the Federal Republic of Somalia with immediate effect and report to the next ordinary summit of Heads of State.

EAC states are Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the latest entrant the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which joined in April last year.

Somalia had applied to join the bloc two times before, but the Community never sent a team of experts to the country to determine if it qualified for membership.

The Federal Republic of Somalia made its application to join the EAC in 2012.

Since its application, the matter has been pending due to various reasons.

Under the Treaty, the Criteria for the admission of new countries into the Community include: acceptance of the Community as set out in the Treaty; adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice; potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region, and; geographical proximity to and inter-dependence between it and the EAC Partner States.

The other criteria for admission of a new member are: the establishment and maintenance of a market-driven economy; and; social and economic policies being compatible with those of the Community.

Meanwhile, EAC partner states have until June 15 to pick a senior military officer to feature in the technical evaluation team.

The 21st Extra-Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State that converged in Bujumbura, Burundi tasked the seven partner states to identify Brigadier generals to evaluate the implementation of the mandate of the East African Regional Force.

“The officers would then report to the sectoral council on cooperation on defence affairs within 90 days after extension of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),” read part of the communiqué seen by ‘Daily News’ yesterday.

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