30th November 2021
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Exit EAC or conduct referendum, Dr Okuk suggests

Author: Woja Emmanuel | Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Assembly Members pay attention to the Budget Speech delivered by Tanzania's Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, United Republic of Tanzania, Hon Dr Damas Ndumbaro. Photo by EAC

South Sudan should exit from the East African Community or conduct a referendum to decide the fate of the young nation, a political analyst has said.

In April 2016, South Sudan became the sixth member of the East Africa Community, a group of nations that cooperates in the areas of trade, travel, tourism and harmonization of tax regimes and other regulations.

South Sudan applied for membership to the EAC as soon as it gained independence in 2011 but was granted an observer status until its admission in 2016.

Since the country joined the EAC, it has been faced with numerous challenges including the payment of its contribution fee to the community.

In May 2019, the lawmakers representing South Sudan at the East African Legislative Assembly told Eye Radio that the assembly had threatened to kick out South Sudan over failure to implement its obligations.

In October 2019, the East African Civil Society Organizations’ Forum also raised an alarm to suspend South Sudan from the community for failing to clear its arrears.

In mid-October the same year, South Sudan paid $3 million as part of the $27 million membership arrears owed to the region by the country.

Article 146 of the EAC treaty also stipulates that the Summit may suspend a Partner State from taking part in the activities of the community if that State fails to observe and fulfill the fundamental principles and objectives of the Treaty including failure to meet financial commitments to the community within a period of eighteen (18) months.

It also states that a suspended partner state shall cease to enjoy the benefits provided for under the treaty but shall continue to be bound by membership obligations until the suspension is lifted.

Speaking during a public lecture on the benefits of South Sudan joining the EAC, Dr. James Okuk said the country is not benefiting from the community and instead it continues to lose millions of U.S dollars to the region.

“The Tanzanians are benefiting because the [EALA] MPs are spending their dollars from South Sudan in Tanzania. Kenya refused to lift the visa fees because if they lifted the visas, we would have benefited. When you get to Kenya, you have to pay $100 and they don’t allow South Sudanese to do business in Kenya, and in Uganda as well,” Dr. Okuk stated.

“We have really lost millions of U.S dollars and we cannot afford to lose like this while our institutions are collapsing in South Sudan.”

The political analyst stated the country should exit from the EAC or a referendum be held to decide the fate of the South Sudanese people.

“It is time to tell those who rushed us to East Africa to apologize and we are demanding an exit from East Africa, and we need a referendum if it means that,” said Dr. Okuk.

South Sudan also owes continental and international bodies, including the African Union and aviation groups, millions of dollars in unpaid membership fees.

Recent reports by anti-corruption groups such as The Sentry and Global Witness suggest that oil revenues are being pocketed by the ruling class.

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