South Sudan will Friday officially become the sixth member of the East African Community (EAC) when it signs documents acceding to the treaties of the regional bloc.
President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and his Tanzania counterpart, John Magufuli, who doubles up as the EAC chairman, are scheduled to sign the accession treaty in Dar es Salaam, weeks after Heads of State from the bloc approved the admission of the country that is just climbing out of a phase of civil unrest.
“The Summit then designated the chairperson, President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania, to sign the Treaty of Accession with the Republic of South Sudan,” the EAC secretariat said ahead of tomorrow’s ceremony.
The signing will set in motion South Sudan’s assimilation into the bloc that is currently at a common market stage.
In line with the treaty, the country will be required to immediately open up its borders for exchange of goods as well as labour and capital.
South Sudan would also be required to adhere to principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice besides adopting social and economic policies being compatible with those of the EAC.
Boon to Kenyan banks
The formal entry of South Sudan into the EAC is a boon to Kenyan firms as banks, insurers, manufacturers and airlines will easily move critical staff to run their operations in areas where locals lack expertise.
Tens of Kenyan firms are operating in South Sudan through subsidiaries or cross-border sales networks including UAP Holdings, EABL, KCB, CFC Stanbic Bank, Equity Bank, Co-operative Bank, and Kenya Airways.
A lull after a prolonged civil strife has created numerous opportunities for businesses and investors in South Sudan.
Political leaders in South Sudan are lately keen on fostering peace following pressure by the international community after recent animosity between the government and the opposition almost slid the country back to civil war.
In a symbolic move, South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar said last week he would return to the capital Juba on April 18 to form a transitional government with President Kiir, more than two years after a feud between the two erupted into war.
Reuters quoted President Kiir’s spokesman, Ateny Wek Ateny ,as having said Machar’s return was a significant steps towards the implementation of a peace deal signed in August to end the conflict that started in late 2013.
President Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in 2013, exacerbating a political dispute that escalated into fighting in December that year between soldiers taking sides, reopening ethnic rifts between Kiir’s Dinka group and Machar’s Nuer.