A meeting of the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers will soon discuss Somalia’s application to join the regional grouping, a senior Kenyan official has said.
Musa Sirma, the current chairman of the council, however, could not provide more details.
“I am just going to get the (application) letter from our Ministry of Foreign Affairs then I will inform the EAC Secretary General,” Sirma, who also doubles as the Kenyan Minister for EAC affairs, told The New Times on phone from Nairobi on Wednesday.
The troubled Horn of African nation submitted the official request to Kenya’s Foreign affairs minister, through Ambassador Abdi Hakim Ali Yasin, the special envoy of Sheikh Shariff, President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
EAC is composed of Rwanda, Burundi, Kenyan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991. It joins Sudan and Southern Sudan in applying to join the bloc.
Khartoum’s application was rejected late last year by the Heads of State Summit in the Burundian capital Bujumbura, owing to the fact that it does not share a physical border with any EAC partner state.
DR Congo is another nation thought to have interest in joining the grouping.
When contacted, Monique Mukaruliza, the Minister in charge of EAC Affairs, said that for any country to be admitted, it has to fulfil all requirements as stipulated in the regional treaty.
“There are certain requirements that are considered before a country joins the community; it’s not automatic that any country that makes the request will be allowed. As Rwanda, we consider transparency. Therefore, Somalia should also follow the procedures,” she said in an interview.
Somalia, a country where armies from three EAC countries are fighting Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab terrorists, borders Kenya.
Article 3 (3) of the EAC Treaty sets out conditions for membership; including adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice.
Others are contribution towards the strengthening of integration within the East African region; geographical proximity to and inter -dependence between it and the partner states; establishment and maintenance of a market driven economy.
By Eric Kabeera, The New Times