Decisions by East African Community dent image of regional body

As news from the ongoing Head of State Summit in Arusha/Tanzania is emerging, consternation and disappointment is also spreading over some of the decisions taken.

In particular, the agreement of Heads of State to pass the Secretary General’s job to a Burundian regime crony has led to a series of acid comments received here.

“This looks like Burundi’s illegal regime has been rewarded just days after another mass grave was discovered. The suspected killers are security operatives and militias loyal to the dictator. This decision was taken by the same people who advocate for African countries to leave the International Criminal Court in favor of African solutions for human right abuses and crimes against humanity. It is clear now for us who suffer in Burundi that it is only the ICC which can save us and bring the killer regime to book,” commented one Burundian now living in exile in Uganda, an opinion often echoed by others, too.

The second controversial decision was the admission of South Sudan to the 5-member state regional body, which received mixed reactions. While a smaller section of those commenting applauded the principle enlargement of the East African Community to now 6 member states with over 160 million people forming a supposedly common domestic market, the majority of comments has harshly critiqued the news.

“South Sudan is not ready for this. I recall when Rwanda was an applicant country it took them years and an enormous effort to harmonize laws, regulations and all. South Sudan has not harmonized. Their country is a mess. Their rogue regime does not match even the theoretical requirements of human rights, respect for law and all. Their currency is almost useless and therefore of no value to the other EAC members. The country owes huge money to suppliers in Kenya and Uganda. Investors have begun to withdraw from South Sudan. Harassment and murders of traders from Uganda and even Kenya have remained unsolved. Only a few months ago did Kiir [South Sudan’s regime leader Salva Kiir] want to deport all Kenyans and Ugandans. Rwanda when it joined was ready and still a lot of work needed to be done. South Sudan is absolutely not ready and the decision to admit them to the EAC is very much premature and only politically motivated because they are part of the NCIP group [Northern Corridor Integration Project countries],” another source commented.