National, News

Kiir concerned about EAC political tensions

By Charles K Mark


East African Community (EAC) heads of state chairperson expresses concern over strained inter-state political tensions within the regional bloc.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit raised the concerns during a meeting with Secretary General of East African Community, Peter Mathuki, in Juba.

The EAC Secretary-General briefed president Kiir on the political and security dynamics among member states, acknowledging with deep concern and emphasized the need for urgent intervention.

The meeting, at the state house J1 in Juba on Monday morning, discussed the establishment of specific goals to be achieved under President Kiir’s leadership.

Both the Chair and the EAC Secretary General strongly emphasized the importance of cultivating a predictable and stable security environment that would facilitate the advancement of the regional integration agenda.

“President Salva Kiir reiterated the need for not only East Africans, but all Africans to embrace the spirit of brotherhood and where omnipresent conflict arise by utilizing the Regional, Continental and Global Peaceful Conflict Resolution Mechanisms available,” partly read a statement issued yesterday.

The EAC bloc has recently witnessed strained relations between Burundi and Rwanda due to allegations of rebel support, while tensions between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have cast a shadow over the future of the bloc.

Nevertheless, the chairperson of the summit of EAC Heads of State identified several measures that will be implemented to address the inter-state relations within the bloc.

Kiir expressed his commitment to sending special envoys to the different capitals to deliver his message and, if necessary, engage with the leaders to resolve these matters within the framework of the EAC.

He emphasized the need for unity and cooperation to overcome the challenges facing the region and the continent as a whole.

“Where omnipresent conflict arises, utilize the regional, continental, and global peace conflict resolution mechanisms available,” he advised.

Meanwhile, EAC secretary General, Peter Mathuki also updated President Kiir on the Secretariat’s readiness to fast-track the integration of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

He said they await the new member (Somalia)’s deposit of the instruments of ratification with the Secretary-General.

Boasting a combined population of 301.8 million across the eight member states, the EAC faces a critical juncture.

The regional bloc’s ambitious development plans, including infrastructure investments and regional integration, are shaken by a wave of escalating disputes between key member states.

In the $103.8 million budget for 2024–25, the EAC has prioritized promoting the execution of multi-sectorial infrastructure development.

These include railways and airports, to enhance regional connectivity and facilitate the smooth movement of people and goods in the region.

However, with these priorities in place, Uganda has recently sued Kenya at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) for blocking its use of the fuel transportation pipeline.

The move came shortly after Uganda was concerned about the emergence of non-tariff barriers erected by Kenya on bilateral trade.

This week, Burundi closed its border with Rwanda, nearly two weeks after accusing the neighboring country of supporting rebels who carried out attacks on its soil.

Burundi says the RED-Tabara group staged an attack on December 22, 2023, near its border with the DRC, killing 20 people, including women and children.

President Evariste Ndayishimiye has since accused Rwanda of backing the rebels, claims that have been strongly denied by Kigali.

Yet, there is an unresolved dispute between the DRC and Rwanda as the two nations continue to accuse each other of supporting armed rebels.

Civil society activists, and president of the East African Civil Society Network, Mr. Edmund Yakani urged for an immediate and amicable resolution of disputes for the bloc to concentrate on the implementation of development projects.

“Of course, our priority right now is the tension between Burundi and Rwanda and the tension between the DRC against Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania,” he said

Yakani welcomed the initiative by the chairperson to assign special envoys to the capitals of member states.

He urged President Kiir to take the idea of appointing special envoys seriously and make it a serious matter.

“He (President Kiir) needs to establish technical committees that help his leadership in administering the affairs of the East African Committee,” Yakani added.

The activists reiterated the need for immediate action by the president, who is the EAC chair, to take action, which plays a very instrumental role in securing peace and stability in the region.



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