EAC Heads of state to fasttrack the verification of Somalia’s application to join the bloc.
On Friday evening, the East African Community Heads of State Summit in Arusha, Tanzania, resolved to expedite the vetting of Somalia’s application to join the bloc.
Mogadishu requested membership for the second time in 2019, but the Community never dispatched a team of experts to the nation to examine eligibility. The ruling on Friday means that the application process will begin, which may take at least two years.
“The Summit requested the Council of Ministers to quickly accelerate the verification exercise in line with the EAC protocol for admission of new members into the EAC and report at the Summit’s 23rd meeting,” the leaders said in a joint statement.
Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud publicly asked the EAC to evaluate his country’s bid to be the eighth participant after just three months in power this week.
On July 12, the Democratic Republic of the Congo submitted the ratification documents and officially joined the union.
President Mohamud previously presided over the nation from 2012 until 2017.
After being inaugurated in May, he appointed Hamza Barre, a native of turbulent Jubbaland, as Prime Minister. The campaign to join the EAC shows that President Mohamud is willing to pursue national rather than party objectives, as shown in previous Somali governments.
The president embarked on a whistle-stop trip to East and Horn of Africa countries this week, pursuing a clear outward foreign policy.
“We don’t want to be a burden anymore,” he addressed a meeting of Heads of State and dignitaries in Arusha, where he was a special guest at the just finished EAC Common Market Protocol High-Level Retreat.
“We wish to contribute to this vast community of countries.” “The day Somalia has access to this magnificent community will be a dream come true,” President Mohamud stated.
Somalia’s admission should be examined, according to the bloc. According to the rules, a decision will be made after at least 18 months.
“East Africa owns Somalia.” “There is no nation among the seven countries here with which Somalia is not connected by commerce, community, or any other means,” President Mohamud stated in his remarks.
When Somalia was facing uncertain elections four months ago, the concept of joining the EAC may have been disregarded. The nation requested membership in the group in 2012, but the other partners were hesitant.
Former President Mohamed Farmaajo reapplied in 2019 with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Last February, the bloc agreed to start admitting Kinshasa but postponed a decision on Mogadishu until a panel of specialists determined Somalia’s preparedness.
President Mohamud addressed the Summit on Thursday and said he understood where his nation was coming from. He believes Somalia is now ready to play its role, leveraging its pool of hardworking entrepreneurs and capitalizing on its blue economy — natural resources such as fish and a long coastline — to bolster regional economies.
Burundi’s Evariste Ndayishimiye, Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Somalia’s Hassan Mohamud, and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, from left. VILLA SOMALIA PHOTO
Since assuming office, Tanzania was President Mohamud’s fourth visit to the area after visits to Djibouti, Eritrea, and Kenya. He also visited Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, which have extensively sponsored initiatives in Somalia.
He mentioned “cordial” interactions and “brotherly” bonds during his trips.
In terms of applying for membership in the EAC, Somalia’s issues — from the civil war to al-Shabaab assaults, internally displaced persons, and refugees — have also impacted its neighbors.
President Mohamud praised neighboring nations for their assistance in protecting the Somali people.
By joining the EAC, Somali nationals will have the freedom to migrate and conduct business throughout the bloc. The country will benefit from the Community’s economic, political, and social assistance programs.
On Monday in Djibouti, host President Ismail Guelleh bestowed the country’s highest honor on him, saying it was to “reaffirm the longstanding links.”
Mogadishu accused Djibouti of partnering with Kenya in interfering with its internal affairs in March 2021. This came after President Guelleh offered to appoint a committee of specialists to investigate Somalia’s complaints in December 2020. Djibouti produced a report indicating there was no proof after questioning officials from both sides for a month.
Relations have recently warmed after President Mohamud met with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.
President Mohamud’s visit to Kenya is notable since he was president when Somalia sued Kenya over the maritime boundary at the International Court of Justice in 2014. The lawsuit was decided in Somalia’s favor last year, but Kenya indicated it would not follow the verdict.
The two nations settled their diplomatic differences following the visit via the Joint Commission on Cooperation.
President Mohamud is scheduled to visit Ethiopia and Uganda, which are critical to Somalia’s internal security. Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Burundi send soldiers to the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which is presently strengthening the country’s security.
However, these nations’ ties with Somalia are strained.
Mogadishu had first cut ties with Kenya because of claims of “intervention.” Djibouti then volunteered to arbitrate, but Mogadishu accused it of “betraying” a brother by siding with Kenya. Although the federal leadership in Mogadishu had mended relations with Ethiopia, federal member states remained wary of Addis Ababa.
Meanwhile, Eritrea’s choice to train hundreds of Somali forces without Mogadishu’s legislative consent has remained contentious, and the substance of the training remains unknown three years later.
According to a joint dispatch issued during his visit to Asmara, the visit “understood the historic brotherly links and mutual support between the peoples of Eritrea and Somalia.”
During his recent visit, President Mohamud signed an MoU that “covers cooperation between Somalia and Eritrea in the sectors of politics, diplomacy, economy, social cooperation culture, defense, and security,” according to Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel.
The whereabouts of the Somali soldiers Eritrea has been training for the last three years remains unknown.
President Mohamud appeared in public with some of the soldiers mentioned above in Asmara last week but did not specify when or if they would return to Somalia. He visited with their family and promised to link them as quickly as possible.
According to Adam Aw Hirsi, an ex-civil servant turned political analyst, President Mohamud’s early days in office demonstrate that numerous lessons were learned from his previous presidency and his predecessors’.
“It has always been impracticable to break diplomatic ties with a country that has hundreds of internationally sanctioned military men in your country.” There could have been alternative ways to resolve the issues and flare-ups,” Mr. Hirsi told The EastAfrican last week, referring to Kenyan soldiers in ATMIS. They’ve been there for ten years, formerly as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
During his visit to Kenya two weeks ago, President Mohamud overturned a ban on miraa imports from Kenya and allowed Kenya Airways to resume regular flights to Mogadishu, which had been suspended for the previous five years. At a joint news conference, he said that he was willing to “repair” ties with Kenya on the basis of mutual respect and to address similar concerns.
“There is more to bring us together than to separate us,” he remarked during a joint press conference with President Kenyatta at Nairobi’s State House. “Terrorism and droughts are not the only shared concerns we face.” We have a lot more problems ahead of us that will need us to collaborate for the sake of our people.”
According to a subsequent joint declaration, miraa shipments from Kenya to Somalia and fish exports from Somalia to Kenya would restart “with immediate effect.”
The two nations also agreed to officially restore their borders, which were closed in 2007 and serve as a conduit for terrorists and illicit consumer products.
The two governments “agreed to facilitate, diversify, and promote trade and economic cooperation between the two countries,” as well as limit visa processing time to 10 working days for ordinary passport holders and visas on arrival for diplomatic passport holders who obtain approval from their respective Foreign Affairs Ministries.
“President Mohamud’s objective with neighboring nations is to alleviate tensions, which prepares the road for additional security and economic cooperation said Abdirisak Aden, executive director of Mogadishu-based think tank Farsight Africa Research and Policy Studies.
And it seems that Mogadishu is now trying to collaborate with its neighbors.
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