By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Arusha: Somalia has been admitted as the eighth member of the East African Community on Friday November 24, 2023, just over a year after the latest entrant, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was admitted into the bloc.
Mogadishu’s admission into the bloc was approved by the region’s leaders during the 23rd ordinary summit of the heads of state held in Arusha, Tanzania, on the same day, after successful negotiations that lasted close to a year.
The 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.
Somalia first expressed interest in joining the EAC in 2012 but was turned down due to its internal troubles with Al Shabaab and 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 DRC, which also has multiple conflicts within its borders, in 2022.
With the return of President Mohamud, who had initiated the first attempt at joining the EAC during his first term in office in 2012, Somalia renewed the bid to join the bloc, and a verification mission was dispatched in January this year to verify its readiness to join the bloc.
In August, Somali officials engaged in negotiations with EAC officials, after which a report was drafted and forwarded to the council of ministers for discussions, before it was forwarded to the heads of state summit, held this Friday.
Somalia’s entrance into the EAC will now pave way for the admission of its neighbors, Eritrea and Djibouti, which have also been targeted in EAC’s expansion plan to include the entire horn of Africa, including Ethiopia and possibly Sudan.