South Sudan’s Kiir to sign to join EAC next week as Igga defends decision

JUBA (11 Mar.)

South Sudan’s Vice President James Wani Igga says President Kiir will sign the final document on the decision to join the East African Community (EAC) next week.

Igga represented South Sudan at the EAC meeting in Tanzania recently where it was decided to admit South Sudan into the East African trade bloc.

In a briefing to members of SPLM party parliamentary caucus on Thursday, Wani Igga said the country’s membership in the East African Community will benefit the people of South Sudan. 

Igga stressed that South Sudan joining the EAC would lower the cost of goods imported to the nation, while also improving health, education, taxation, ICT, peace and security, migration, industrialization, agriculture and rural development.

“From the depth of our mind and our hearts we are convinced that this is the correct decision,” he said. “It will actually pull us out of many problems that we are facing today.”

Igga said joining the EAC would bring benefits to the people of South Sudan in similar ways to when the British colonized southern Sudan, and that Kiswahili will be introduced in South Sudanese schools.

He further said they intend to connect South Sudan with the East African nations by a railway so as to provide consumer goods in the market at affordable prices.

The vice president lashed out at opponents of joining the EAC, saying the SPLM members should not be like “Judas the betrayer” and be against the decision.

“When we make decisions we are not betraying our country,” he asserted. “We are as commited as all of you when it comes to the welfare of our people, not less by the way. Do not take that you’re the only patriotic South Sudanese and all the rest of the people are fools.”

Igga slammed SPLM members who oppose joining the EAC, saying those against the decision are “just born to oppose.” “Why do we send somebody to spoil our soup? Because there are some of us, my friends, even if you give him honey at whatever amount, they will oppose it. This is wrong,” he said.

He said SPLM members should not shame the president by not ratifying the SPLM treaty when it reaches parliament.

For his part, Barnaba Marial, Foreign Minister, said his country’s accession to the East African countries came at the right time, adding South Sudan is the second after Tanzania in terms of land resources in the bloc.

He claimed that Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia are also attempting to join the EAC, while denying any intention to close the Arab League office in Juba.

Marial hinted that some politicians had been working “behind the scenes” to block South Sudan from joining the EAC, and warned the SPLM members that he was looking at their faces to see who was clapping in support of joining the EAC or not.

Presidential advisor on economic affairs Agrey Tissa Sabuni urged the SPLM parliamentary caucus to respect the decision to join the EAC countries, saying it will allow free movement between member states.

The decision to join East African countries has been widely criticized by citizens including experts in the field of economics, citing deteriorating economy in the country.

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