The 13th East Africa Heads of States Summit meeting yesterday rejected Sudan’s application to join the EAC, while opening the door to South Sudan to join the regional bloc. Uganda and Tanzania had earlier objected to Sudan’s application over its practise of Sharia law, mistreatment of women and questionable democratic credentials but it was a clause in the EAC Treaty that requires geographical proximity that was used to keep the applicant out.
Khartoum could still join the EAC after South Sudan, whose belated application was forwarded to the Council of Ministers for consideration next year. Presidents Museveni, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya, Pierre Nkurunzinza of Burundi and representatives of Tanzania and Rwanda, whose presidents were absent, agreed upon yesterday’s final communiqué. “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,” EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera, said as he read the communiqué.
Taking over the rotational chair of the Summit, President Kibaki asked the United Nations Security Council to take serious steps towards stabilisation of Somalia because the threats from al-Shabaab militants continue to spill over into the whole region. “Our economies continue to face serious challenges arising from the breakdown of the rule of law in Somalia,” he said. Meanwhile, President Museveni’s delegation took extra precautions attributed to the risk of attack by al-Shabaab.
While President Kibaki travelled in a Burundi government vehicle, President Museveni had three armoured Ugandan-registered cars in his convoy and left early for what his host said was another engagement. “You know our President is threatened especially by the al-Shabaab, and Burundi is a threatened place because of the role our two armies are doing in Somalia,” a Ugandan minister in Bujumbura said, speaking on condition of anonymity.