President Salva Kiir’s EAC Takeover Sparks Controversy and Hope in East Africa
In a surprising turn of events, President Salva Kiir’s anticipated ascension to the leadership of the East African Community (EAC) has ignited a spectrum of reactions from Kenyan analysts. The impending endorsement, set to take place at the November 24 summit in Tanzania, has spurred discussions on regional dynamics and the impact on South Sudan’s domestic affairs.
Dr. Kenneth Ombongi, Head of the Department of History & Archeology at the University of Nairobi, believes that Kiir’s chairmanship could instill a sense of belonging among South Sudanese within the regional bloc. Speaking during a televised debate on Tuesday, Dr. Ombongi asserted that this symbolic acceptance might play a pivotal role in South Sudan’s upcoming elections in December 2024.
“The chairmanship of Salva Kiir is important, though he is coming in for the first time. Once South Sudan has been accepted, that comes with symbolism, even at home, which will give some hope that the people of South Sudan are members of EAC. Salva Kiir also needs it for the election, you never know,” remarked Dr. Ombongi.
However, not all perspectives are optimistic. Yusuf Hassen, a senior official at Kenya’s Department of Foreign Affairs, expressed concerns about South Sudan’s financial contributions to the EAC. Highlighting South Sudan as one of the largest defaulters in regional contributions, Hassen emphasized the need for member states to meet their financial obligations.
“We can’t achieve the aim of African unity without paying for it. Governments must be able to pay their dues to the East African Community and the African Union for these institutions to be viable,” Hassen stated.
Prof. Peter Kagwanja, CEO of the Africa Policy Institute, raised critical questions about the potential impact of Kiir’s leadership on the EAC’s stability. Kagwanja pointed out the dilemma arising from South Sudan’s imminent democratic transition in the 2024 elections and questioned the compatibility of EAC’s objectives with Kiir’s role in IGAD mediation for Sudan.
“The coming of Salva Kiir will put the region in a dilemma, which we will not speak about because of diplomatic issues. He is supposed to face elections at some stage, and that pushes some issues about the East African community and the stability of its membership, particularly the process toward democratization,” remarked Prof. Kagwanja.
As the region watches, the stage is set for a leadership change that could shape the future trajectory of the East African Community, bringing both optimism and apprehension among member states.