East Africa: Juba Risks Losing Dr Magufuli Issued the Directive EAC Membership Over Unpaid Fee

South Sudan President Salva Kiir at State House and Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye (file photo).

REPUBLIC of South Sudan has by the end of this month to confirm whether or not it will be part of the East African Community (EAC).

Plagued by political instability, the world's newest nation is currently struggling to raise enough money, which is part of its financial obligation to the regional bloc.

South Sudan, which joined the community in April 2016, had by September 13, owed the community over 27 million US dollars, prompting activists and regional legislators to demand Juba's suspension from the bloc.

Last month, the activists under the umbrella of the East African Civil Society Organisations Forum (EACSOF) filed a petition, demanding the EAC Council of Ministers to recommend to the Summit of EAC Heads of State to invoke article 143 and 146 on partner states that have met the criteria.

Article 143 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC states that a partner state, which defaults in meeting its financialthe Treaty be subjected to such action as the Summit may deem fit on the council recommendations.

In the same vein, lawmakers with the regional legislative organ also weighed in on the matter, taking issue with the South Sudan's failure to honour its financial obligations to the community, giving the new EAC member until the end of this month to pay up.

But, responding to the demands last week, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary Ministry of East African Community and Regional Development Adan Mohammed told EALA members that the Council of Ministers will study the recommendations of the House.

He maintained that council expects that a report on the Alternative Funding mechanism shall be on its agenda before the next Summit of EAC Heads of State in November, 2019.

The report is also expected to address the current policy of zero budget increase ceiling.

"The council is aware that once concluded, the alternative funding mechanism will be a solution to the financial challenges.

The council will continue directing partner states to remit the money in a timely manner," he said.

He further informed the house that the Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs and Planning at its 24th meeting had directed the EAC Secretary General to make proposals on sanctions that can be imposed on EAC partner states that breach the treaty in line with Article 143.

"The secretariat has already prepared drafts schedule of sanctions to be applied automatically.

The draft schedule goes beyond the non-remittance of financial contributions to other breaches of the treaty," added the cabinet secretary.

Through their petition, EACSOF urged EALA to put to task founding partners states over failure to clear their contributions to the 2018/19 budget.

"EACSOF is seriously worried about the dwindling contributions by partner states towards financing the EAC and more concerned by the non-remittance by one partner state," the forum's programme coordinator and acting CEO, Ms Martha Makenge, said in the petition to the legislative organ.

In their rejoinder, the house unanimously concurred with the EACSOF's petition, adding that the EAC partner states' delayed contributions were impeding the bloc from attaining its goals.

Political conflict, compounded by economic woes and drought, has caused massive displacement, raging violence and dire food shortages in South Sudan over the years.

Over seven million people - about two thirds of the population - are reportedly in need of aid.

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