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PHOTO | FILE Some EAC officials favour immediate entry of Juba into the bloc whilst others think that Africa’s newest state should be given observer status. NATION MEDIA GROUP. www.kismaayodaily.com – your gateway of Somali news around the world.

IN SUMMARY

  • A tentative agenda for the 13th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State lists consideration of membership application by Somalia and South Sudan as part of the deliberations
  • In the case of South Sudan, the tone that this week’s deliberations will take remains clouded in uncertainty, given that a key EAC organ has yet to submit its recommendations on the matter
  • A final decision on Somalia’s bid is unlikely to be made this week. It is clear that the country will have to undergo the same verification process to which South Sudan has been subjected to

The entry of two of East Africa’s more volatile states into the regional economic bloc will be on top of the agenda when the presidents of the five member countries meet in Nairobi on Wednesday.

A tentative agenda for the 13th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community (EAC) Heads of State lists consideration of membership application by Somalia and South Sudan as part of the deliberations.

The latter applied for membership in October last year while the former submitted its bid in February this year.

In the case of South Sudan, the tone that this week’s deliberations will take remains clouded in uncertainty, given that a key EAC organ has yet to submit its recommendations on the matter.

Decision yet to be taken

EAC presidents in April referred the issue of South Sudan’s application to the council of ministers, demanding verification that it meets EAC membership standards. Following the verification, a decision on the country’s membership was to be taken this week.

Assessment of South Sudan’s readiness to join the bloc was carried out and completed in August. However, Tanzania is yet to make recommendations on the matter, claiming that it had not had sufficient time to analyse the information.

In consideration for Tanzania’s request for more time, the Council of Ministers did not deliberate the issue.

“The agenda that the heads of state will finally consider depends very much on deliberations made at lower decision-making levels. Recommendations made by the Council of Ministers usually determine the tone of talks during the summit,” said Ministry of East African Community communications officer Gwaro Ogaro.

Although the verification report said that South Sudan had put in place legal and institutional frameworks that would enable it to meet membership requirements as outlined in the EAC Treaty, these institutions were still in their infancy or not yet operational.

Different views

Further, the report revealed that there were different views among South Sudan’s government officials on the country’s planned EAC membership. Some officials favoured immediate entry while others felt that the country should be granted observer status.

A final decision on Somalia’s bid is unlikely to be made this week. It is clear that the country will have to undergo the same verification process to which South Sudan has been subjected to.

“The necessary follow-up on this matter requires a verification of the Republic of Somalia’s conformity with the following criteria, as stipulated under the Treaty for the admission of foreign countries,” reads part of an August report from the Council of Ministers.

Apart from new membership applications, creation of a Single Customs Territory (SCT) is on the agenda. The SCT is supposed to ease movement of goods by establishing one revenue authority to collect duty for all cargo coming into the community.

Further, goods would only be charged duty once, with the taxes remitted to the destination country.

Stalled process

In April, the heads of state adopted the SCT in principle while asking the Council of Ministers to expedite implementation of the plan. However, the process has stalled since 2010, partly due to the fact that some countries depend on trade taxes for over 50 per cent of their total revenue.

Finance minister Njeru Githae recently announced that customs would become an independent body as part of the country’s efforts to integrate revenue collection with the region.

Despite these efforts, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) seems to be holding tight on to its turf. Recently, a row nearly erupted between Kenya and Uganda after KRA introduced a new cash bond on goods transiting through the Port of Mombasa.

The presidents will also seek a progress report from the Council of Ministers on the expansion of the jurisdiction of the East African Court of Justice.

In April, the heads of state agreed to expand the court’s mandate to include crimes against humanity amid campaigns that the regional court should take over the cases against four Kenyans facing prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

Source: (Nation)

Kismaayodaily On November - 28 - 2012

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