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East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 23rd November, 2021: Ministers in charge of East African Community (EAC) Affairs have recommended for consideration by the EAC Heads of States the report of the verification team on the application by The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join the Community.
The Ministers further recommended that the EAC Heads of State direct the commencement of negotiations with the DRC, in accordance with the findings of the verification team.
The Ministers made the decision during their 44th Extra-Ordinary Meeting held on 22nd November, 2021 via a hybrid format.
The Ministers considered the findings of the report set out to ensure DRC is a good fit to join EAC. The report observed, among other things, the institutional frameworks in place, legal frameworks, policies, projects and programmes, areas of cooperation with other EAC Partner States and DRC’s expectations from her membership to the Community.
The Council’s request to the Summit for commencement of negotiations with DRC will create a platform for in-depth discussions on modalities for harmonization of DRC’s policies and instruments to those of EAC. Matters pertaining to peace and security, language and legal systems are among the areas that will be factored in for a strategic way forward during the negotiations.
Speaking following the meeting, EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki said that DRC’s population of about 90 million has the potential to contribute to expanded market and investment opportunities.
“By DRC joining, the Community will open the corridor from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as North to South, hence expanding the economic potential of the region,” he said.
DRC shares borders with five of the EAC Partner States, namely; Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. It has established existing cooperation programmes with various Partner States at bilateral and multi-lateral level.
The Summit of EAC Heads of State at their 21st Ordinary Meeting held on 27th February, 2021, directed the EAC Council of Ministers to expeditiously undertake a verification exercise in accordance with the EAC Criteria for Admission of Foreign States.
On 11th June, 2021, the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs and Planning appointed the verification team comprising of officials from EAC Partner States and staff from the EAC Secretariat. EAC Secretary General Hon. Dr. Mathuki launched the verification mission on 25thJune, 2021 in the eastern Congolese city of Goma at a ceremony attended by the DRC President, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi. Following the launch, the verification team undertook the verification exercise in Kinshasa, DRC from 26th June to 5th July, 2021 with the objective of establishing DRC’s level of conformity in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.
On other matters, the 44th Extra-Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers, noted the need to convene a virtual meeting by 15th December, 2021 to deliberate on the Rules of Procedure with the objective of addressing the issue of quorum in the absence of some Partner States.
The Council also directed the EAC Secretariat to reconvene a Select Committee Meeting on recruitment matters from 24th November, 2021 and deferred consideration of the Report of the EALA Commission on the recruitment of the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the Assembly to 29th November, 2021.
In attendance of the meeting were; Uganda’s 1st Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Affairs, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Hon. Liberata Mulamula, and Burundi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ezéchiel Nibigira. Joining virtually were; South Sudan’s Minister for EAC Affairs, Hon. Deng Alor Kuol, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Hon. Adan Mohamed and Rwanda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Prof. Manasseh Nshuti. Dr. Alice Yalla, the Chairperson of the DRC Verification Mission and EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki.
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