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Somalia Joins EAC as 8th member

Somalia Joins EAC as 8th member

Somalia President Mohamud (Courtesy photo)

Somalia has officially become the eighth member of the East African Community (EAC) on Friday, November 24, 2023. The decision was made during the 23rd Ordinary Summit of the EAC Heads of State held in Arusha, Tanzania, following extensive negotiations that spanned over a year.

The announcement came from Burundi’s outgoing President Evariste Ndayishimiye, who confirmed the formal admission of Somalia into the regional bloc after a closed-door meeting lasting more than five hours. Somalia’s entry into the EAC marks a significant milestone, as the nation had initially expressed interest in joining in 2012 but faced obstacles due to internal conflicts with Al Shabaab and a lack of political stability.

The renewed push for Somalia’s membership gained momentum when South Sudan, facing similar challenges, was admitted in 2016, followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2022. President Hasan Sheikh Mohamud, who had initiated Somalia’s first attempt to join the EAC in 2012, spearheaded the recent bid, supported by a verification mission dispatched in January to assess Somalia’s readiness.

The EAC, with a population exceeding 300 million people, now includes Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and Somalia. President Mohamud expressed his joy, stating, “I am overjoyed beyond expression as today we have opened a new chapter as a new member of the EAC.” He thanked the EAC heads of state for their trust and called for collaborative efforts to enhance regional prosperity.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary-General, highlighted the positive impact of Somalia’s inclusion on the bloc. He emphasized the geographical reach expansion, the improvement of multilateral and fiscal standing, and the utilization of Somalia’s blue economy resources, particularly in the fishing industry, to boost the regional economy.

The admission of Somalia into the EAC also aligns with the bloc’s expansion plans, with neighboring countries Eritrea and Djibouti potentially following suit. The EAC aims to encompass the entire Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and Sudan.

In addition to Somalia’s admission, the Summit discussed the progress of the EAC-led Nairobi Process on the Restoration of Peace and Stability in Eastern DRC.

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan was appointed the Chairperson of the Summit, succeeding President Ndayishimiye of Burundi.

The Summit urged specific member countries to expedite the conclusion of the EAC Political Confederation public consultation by mid-next year, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo appointed as the EAC’s rapporteur.

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