South Sudan $36m debt written off as Somalia joins regional bloc

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he East African Community (EAC) has written South Sudan’s $36 million annual membership debt owed to the regional bloc. President Salva Kiir Mayardit attributed the failure to pay to the implementation of the peace process back home.

Kiir, the new chairperson of the EAC, said that South Sudan strongly believes in the capabilities of the bloc to address the common challenges that face the region and Africa. He thanked the summit for waiving arrears owed to the bloc accrued by South Sudan over the years and disclosed that his country would henceforth remit its annual contributions on a timely basis.

Juba immediately cleared the outstanding $15.5 million and is currently the most up-to-date regarding payment of the annual fee. This now leaves Burundi as the most indebted member with $15.5 million, followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – which has yet to remit any money since its admissions this year.

The 23rd Ordinary Meeting of Heads of State also approved the admission of the Federal Republic of Somalia as the eighth member of the bloc. The summit further designated the chairperson of the summit, Salva Kiir to agree with Somalia on when to sign the treaty of accession into the Community. 

The summit further directed Somalia to within six months after the signing of the treaty to deposit the instrument of ratification with the secretary general. They directed the Council of Ministers to develop a roadmap for the integration of Somalia into the Community and report progress to the next meeting of the summit. 

Speaking shortly after the summit admitted his country into the bloc, Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud described the decision as a historic one, adding that the move will be mutually beneficial for both Somalia and the EAC. 

President Mohamud said that Somalia brings to the bloc her rich culture, heritage and strategic location with 3,000 miles along the Indian Ocean coastline, adding that Somalia would create an environment conducive to trade and prosperity within its national borders. 

He said that Somalia belongs to EAC with all partner states linked to his country through historical, cultural and linguistic bonds, even as he added that Somalia’s borders would be bridges as opposed to barriers for trade. 

On the ongoing national consultations for the drafting of the Constitution of the EAC political confederation, the summit called upon Tanzania, Rwanda and DRC to conclude the consultations process by May 30, 2024.

On the Sustainable Financing Model for the Community, the summit agreed on a 65 per cent (equal contribution) and 35 per cent (assessed contributions) financing formula.

The summit further directed the Council of Ministers to pursue strategic spending rationalisation measures, institutional strengthening and strict sanctions for the defaulting partner states and report to the 24th summit.  

On the security situation in eastern DRC, President Kiir said that the solution to the crisis lies in negotiations between the government of DRC and the rebel groups operating in the area. He urged EAC Heads of State to remain committed to the Nairobi Process on the restoration of peace in eastern DRC.