What EAC summit has in store today

There will neither be the usual high profile arrivals of the dignitaries nor the protocols that go with them.
However, But today’s extra-ordinary summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State may come up with a landmark decision on the future of the bloc.

Tentatively, the hybrid summit has two issues on its agenda; one being the admission of its seventh member in its expansion drive.

Senior EAC officials said although the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) admission is not facing any hurdle, it would not be automatic.

“The presidents will only clear the way for commencement of serious negotiations with DRC,” said the EAC deputy secretary general (Planning and Infrastructure) Steven Mlote.

The negotiations may take three to four months after which a decision will be made on conformity of the applicant’s to the EAC rules.

“The final decision on the country’s admission will be made by the summit which will follow after this one,”, he affirmed to The Citizen.

The negotiations include the country’s (DRC) readiness to comply with a host of protocols like the Customs Union and Common Market.

Mr Mlote said DRC being a large country with huge natural resources such as minerals has to be fully compliant before entry.

He insisted that the requirements were binding because failure to comply would create some challenges both for its economy and EAC.

He cited South Sudan, which joined the bloc in 2016 but has yet to fully be part of the EAC crucial protocols on economic integration.

These are notably the Customs Union and the Common Market protocols which have been ratified by five partner states except Juba.

Until recently, South Sudan demanded visa clearance to nationals of the other member countries entering the country.

One EAC official said the summit will be hybrid; meaning combining online conversations and physical presence.

However, a statement by the Secretariat to the media on the weekend said in the affirmative that the meeting will be held virtually.

It could not be established if the summit will discuss an equally important matter on the agenda.
That is the amendment of the EAC Treaty on the decision making/consensus process among the partner states.

The amendment will allow decisions of the EAC Council of Ministers, a powerful policy organ, to be determined by a two thirds majority of members.

The proposed amendment will allow decision making where consensus fails on crucial matters in the bloc.

It had also been recommended that the Rules of Procedure of the Summit and the Council be amended to enable a quorum of two thirds of the members.

The issues of Treaty and Rules of Procedure amendments, however, could not be discussed at the Council of Ministers meeting on Monday.

Sources intimated to The Citizen that the ministers put the matter aside to allow for more consultations among the six partner states

This will be the third in a series by the EAC since the outbreak of Covid-19 – will be livestreamed on EAC website and social media platforms.

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