By William Madouk
Somalia has become the newest and the eighth member of the East African Community on Friday, this year.
The entry of Somalia into EAC comes just over a year after admission of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to the regional bloc.
Mogadishu was approved by the region’s leaders during the 23rd ordinary summit of the heads of state in Arusha, Tanzania, after successful negotiations.
It marks the country’s official integration into the regional body, which aims to promote economic, social, and political cooperation among its member states.
EAC outgoing chairperson, Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, said the heads of state agreed to formally admit Somalia into the bloc after the lengthy closed-door meeting, which lasted more than five hours.
“With regard to the application by the Republic of Somalia, we have decided to admit the Federal Republic of Somalia, and the treaty of accession will be concluded with the chair of the summit whom we have designed,” he said.
Welcoming the admission into the regional bloc, the president of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, said, “Today, as we start the new chapter in Somalia’s history, the Somali people are honored, and I am deeply honored to stand before you as we officially become members of the EAC.”
He added, “This moment is not just a culmination of aspiration but a beckon of hope for a future rebuilding with possibilities of opportunities.”
Mr. Mohamud said Somalia’s acceptance would strengthen the bonds of brotherhood and friendship and contribute to collective prosperity for a brighter future for the EAC community.
“As Somalia joins the EAC, we are not merely entering a regional bloc; we are joining a family of nations with one people and one destiny, united by shared goals and visions,” he stressed.
“We envision an EAC where our diversity is our strength, where our economies are intertwined, robust, and united by a sense of belonging and purpose.” We also envision a future where EAC is a leading example of regional integration,” he continued.
Somalia first expressed interest in joining the EAC in 2012, but the request was turned down due to its internal troubles with Al-Shabaab and the lack of a stable legal and political environment at the time.
However, Mogadishu’s hopes of joining the regional bloc were rekindled when equally troubled South Sudan was admitted in 2016 and later the DRC, which also has multiple conflicts within its borders, in 2022.
Somalia’s entrance into the EAC will now pave the way for the admission of its neighbors, Eritrea and Djibouti, which have also been targeted in the EAC’s expansion plan to include the entire Horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and possibly Sudan.