The prospect of South Sudan’s admission to the East African Community to which she applied for observer status in 2007, is exciting.
Her markets and oil fields will certainly boost the region’s foreign investment and trade.
However, with an International Criminal Court warrant round his neck, Omar al-Bashir’s application for membership as Juba grapples with fulfilling membership requirements is a paradoxical challenge.
The community being part of a gradualist approach to African unity, rejection of a brother African country for whatever reason, could add up to downright sectarianism.
While none of the partner states fully meet the requirements of Article 3(b) of the EAC treaty – on governance for instance, there are a number of prominent issues on Sudan that can’t be ignored if the progress to political federation thus far is to stay on course.
Given its previous size and location as the confluence of Arab and Black Africa, Sudan failed right from independence in handling the geopolitics of this unique feature both internally and externally.
This resulted in lengthy gruesome conflicts among her people and with her neighbours.
Coherence of the Sudan, like President Museveni rightly argued in a lecture delivered at Khartoum University in the 90s, would have been a great leap forward for African unity.
Since independence in 1956, Sudanese attitude towards human rights was generally conditioned by Islamist convictions without regard to other religious beliefs and practices causing a marginalisation of majority of is citizens that was totally unacceptable mainly by southerners leading to the country’s split.
The possibility of having South Sudan and Sudan in the EAC at least as of now, poses a challenge in itself but if workable, could prove that diversity fit even better in larger nations.
Sudan’s foreign relations – inconsistently volatile, have in the 90s aimed at spreading Islamism throughout eastern Africa and the Middle East as per the National Islamic Front programme which is contrary to Article 3(b) of the EAC treaty. Relations with Arab countries and neighbours oscillated from cordial to antagonistic characterised by support for regional insurgencies against fellow African states and neighbours.
Furthermore, Sudan has had a long history of protecting terrorists and condoning their actions.
In 1973, Palestinian terrorists murdered the American ambassador to Khartoum which later hosted well known terrorists like Abu Nidal and Osama bin Laden in the 90s.