EAC Presidents Asked to Go Slow On Somali Membership

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In short
Dr. Richard Mshomba, an Economics Professor at La Salle University and author of a book about economics of integration in East Africa argues that Somalia should be allowed to grow trade with East Africa until a time when it is ready. Mshomba says the EAC currently doesnt have a plan to manage admission of new members.

The East African Heads of States meeting in Kampala is expected to decide whether or not to admit war torn Somalia into the East African Community. While there are all indications that the Heads of States are likely to approve Somalia as the latest EAC member state, a source close to the EAC Secretariat in Arusha, says there has been some resentment from Kenya and Tanzania. 



Kenya, which shares a boarder with Somalia, has suffered a number of terror attacks from Al-Shabab militants. Kenya fears that allowing Somali nationals visa privileges will worsen its internal security.  



The source indicates that in Tanzania, petitions have been received from a number of citizens and groups opposed to the admission of Somalia to EAC. Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators is one of the organizations that have openly spoken about Somalia. Most of those arguing against Somalia cite insecurity as the biggest reason. 



 
Some analysts say the admission of Somalia to the EAC should wait until the crises in Burundi and neighboring Republic of Southern Sudan are resolved. Somalia has been at war since the early 1990's. The conflicts mainly blamed on tribal clashes, have tended to spillover to East African countries with attacks by Al- Shabab.  


The Federal Government of Somalia submitted its application to join EAC membership in March 2012. Its application reportedly received a cold reception from Tanzania, saying Somalia didn't have a border with it. In June last year, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo met President Yoweri Museveni in his capacity as the chair of East African Community to lobby to be admitted to EAC.


Somalia has had hard times to convince some members of the East African Legislative Assembly that it meets one of the requirements to join the regional economic bloc. The East African Legislative Assembly members from Uganda two weeks ago continued to express divergent views about plans to admit Somalia.


Susan Nakawuki, one of Uganda's representatives expressed fear that opening up the region's border to Somalia would open it to future terror threats.The 1999 EAC Treaty sets out conditions for membership, including adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice. 



Dr. Richard Mshomba, an Economics Professor at La Salle University and author of a book about economics of integration in East Africa argues that Somalia should be allowed to grow trade with East Africa until a time when it is ready. Mshomba says the EAC currently doesn't have a plan to manage admission of new members. 

To Mshomba, it is suicidal for EAC to admit Somalia, home to terrorist group Al-Shabab to have free movement across the borders.  The admission of Somalia to the East Africa Community means that the country will enjoy the economic benefits of the bloc. 

EAC Affairs State Minister Julius Wandera Maganda, also the current chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers in a statement, said the Presidents in a meeting in Munyonyo will review progress of the verification exercise for the admission of the Republic of Somalia into the EAC. The verification exercise has been on since 2015.

 

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