EAC ready to admit DRC

EAC ready to admit DRC
A session of the EAC Council of Ministers green-light Report on DRC Verification Mission for consideration by EAC Heads of State. (photo credit: courtesy)

The East African Community has expressed readiness to receive the Democratic Republic of Congo into the bloc once the resolution is consented to by the heads of state.

The decision was made after the report was presented to the ministers in charge of East African Community affairs in the six partner states. During the 44th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers, held in a hybrid format on Monday, the ministers recommended that DRC join the EAC.

The report closely examined institutional frameworks, legal frameworks, policies, projects, and programs, areas of cooperation between the DRC and other partner states, and community membership expectations, among other things.

The East African Community Secretary-General, Peter Mathuki, said the DRC would be a resourceful partner with a large population, which could lead to the expansion of markets and investment opportunities.

 “By DRC joining, the Community will open the corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as North to South, hence expanding the economic potential of the region,” Mathuki said.

There will be in-depth deliberations at the Summit of the Heads of States on the possibility of when the negotiations will start to reconcile the DRC’s policies and instruments with the EAC’s. There will also be discussions on regional peace and security, language and legal systems.

The 44th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers resolved that a virtual meeting would be convened on December 15, 2021, to carry out deliberations on the “Rules of Procedures” specifically to address the quorum issues in the absence of some partner states.

The council has further directed the EAC Secretariat to call the committee meeting on recruitment row today, and that the consideration of the report of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on the recruitment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Assembly should be deferred to November 29, 2021.

The meeting was attended by Uganda’s First Deputy Prime Minister, who doubles as the Minister for East African Affairs, Rebecca Kadaga, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Liberata Mulamula, and Burundi’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ezéchiel Nibigira.

Other ministers and government officials who joined virtually included South Sudan’s Minister for East African Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Adan Mohamed, and Rwanda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prof Manasseh Nshuti.

The Chairperson of the DRC Verification Mission, Dr Alice Yalla, and the EAC Secretary-General, Dr Peter Mathuki, also participated in the meeting.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo borders Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and South Sudan, and has various bilateral and multilateral relations with some East African Community partner states.

The verification process

The verification process of admitting DRC in the EAC began at the Summit of the EAC Heads of States at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on February 27, 2021, and gave its directives to the EAC Council of Ministers to speed up the verification while keenly observing the criteria for admission of foreign states.

The verification team was appointed on June 11, 2021, by the EAC Council of Ministers in charge of EAC Affairs and Planning. The team comprised officials from the EAC partner states and staff from the EAC Secretariat.

However, the verification mission was launched by Mr Mathuki on June 25, 2021, in Goma, Eastern Congo, at a ceremony said to have been attended by the President of the DRC, Felix Tshisekedi.

The verification exercise later took place in Kinshasa, DRC, from June 26 to July 5, 2021, to establish the extent of the conformity of the DRC to Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.

The regional bloc

The East African Community (EAC) is composed of six partner states, namely: South Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. The EAC headquarters are in Arusha, Tanzania.

Through strong cooperation, the EAC aims to increase mutual benefits among the partner states, both politically, economically and socially.

Among the most significant treaties include the East African Customs Union, the establishment of the Common Market in 2010 and the implementation of the East African Monetary Union Protocol.

The strength lies in the readiness of East African leaders and citizens to achieve a powerful and sustainable economic and political bloc in East Africa.