Juba, National, News

Activist vows to bolster civic space in EAC

By Ephraim Modi Duku Sokiri

A renowned civil society activist, Edmund Yakani has vowed to prioritize and advocate for full integration of incorporation of East African Community (EAC).

On 5th May 2023, Mr. Yakani was elected during the EAC Civil Society Summit in Arusha, Tanzania as the President of East African Civil Society Organization Forum (EACSOF) for a year.

He is the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO).

“I will use this opportunity for the best interest of the South Sudanese, and EAC citizens and contribute for genuine and effective integration of the region,” he said.

Mr. Yakani also underscored that he will reform the EACSOF’s capacity and influences all the stakeholders for the process of the regional integration.

“My key responsibilities are centered on strengthening the civil society to influence decisions and actions of EAC leaders and representatives for realization of genuine and concrete integration of the region in all aspects” he told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper.

In his term of office, Yakani promised to broaden the civic freedom in the two EAC member states-South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – that are affected more by civil wars.

“My first priorities are to ensure civic space is widened, peace and Security engagement especially in DRC and South Sudan, youth employment,” Yakani pledged.

He also pledged to enforce promotion of agriculture to meet food Security as well as social integration through promotion of transitional dance festival, women empowerment, rights of persons with disabilities and protection of the boda-boda community among others.

Yakani further related activism in South Sudan to that of the other EAC countries as having some analogy.

“Activism in South Sudan and in the East African Community region has similarities but, in some member states, the activism is deadly,” he lamented.

“The government of the East African Community is sharing knowledge and strategies for closing the civic space. But still, we have members of East African Community that have reason records in allowing activism.”

He emphasized turning South Sudan in to a model in the region, appealing to the government in Juba and the EAC members to associate and support him in all his aspects of proceedings for the realization of the integration.

“I call for collaboration and work to ensure we succeed and that the civil society organizations work for the best interest of the EAC and also ensure that South Sudan becomes a model for the EAC integration,” he reiterated.

East African civil society organization Forum (EACSOF) is among the most varied and active regional CSO platforms on the African Continent.

Despite differences in origin, specific objectives, philosophy, scale (of operations, staff and budget), location and structures, EACSOF makes it possible for organizations to connect and work together to represent the voice of the citizens of East Africa region.

This supports the aspirations of the East Africa community and makes the achievement of progress and solidarity realistic for the CSOs of the region.

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