By LUKE ANAMI
The Democratic Republic of Congo could join the EAC before Christmas.
Sources have told The EastAfrican that an extraordinary Heads of State Summit could be held on December 22 in which the DRC admission will top the agenda.
An extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers is planned for December 20.
The EastAfrican understands that the agenda will also feature a review of the treaty establishing the EAC to conform with the expanded membership. These and other decisions are expected to be on the table when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta chairs the virtual summit.
By press time, however, not all members had agreed to attend the meeting.
The Summit is expected to consider a proposal to amend the EAC Treaty on the decision making/consensus process.
The Council has proposed amendment to a protocol on decision making, which will allow decisions of the Council to be determined by a two-thirds majority of the members.
“The proposed amendment will allow decision making where consensus fails,” said Adan Mohamed, Kenya’s EAC Cabinet secretary and chair of the Council of Ministers.
The Council also recommended that the Rules of Procedure of the Summit and the Council should be amended to enable a quorum of two thirds of the members.
In its last extraordinary meeting, the Council also deliberated on the EAC staff recruitment and composition of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ).
At the EACJ, the Council proposed that the Summit, the Council, a partner state or the secretary-general may request the court to give an advisory opinion regarding a question of law arising.
The admission of DRC is based on the verification report that was carried out by a special team led by EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki.
Adan Mohamed, the chair of the Council of Ministers, said last month in Arusha, when they met to endorse the admission of Kinshasa, that recommendations were made to the Summit, which will formalise the admission.
The verification was launched by DRC President Felix Tshisekedi on June 25, 2021 in Goma. The team visited Kinshasa between June 26 and July 5.
The objective of the verification was to establish DRC’s level of conformity with the criteria for admission of foreign states in accordance with Article 3 (2) of the treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
“The address by President Tshisekedi to the citizens and international community on June 30, 2021, on the occasion of DRC’s Independence Day, emphasised DRC’s readiness to join the EAC and the government’s demonstrated enthusiasm and support during the verification exercise,” said Council in their report last month.
While recommending the admission of the DRC to the Summit, the Council said the country could contribute to the strengthening of integration within the East African region.
“The DRC has bilateral and multilateral cooperation arrangements with EAC partner states in Customs, infrastructure, productive and social sectors,” said Mr Mohamed in the report. “In terms of geographical and geopolitical location, DRC has the potential to open an Indian Ocean to Atlantic trade corridor and link the region to North Africa, Central Africa and other continental sub regions.”
Development of infrastructure in DRC will facilitate connectivity through the Trans-African Highways (TAH) development, like the TAH 8 from Mombasa — Nairobi — Kampala — Kisangani — Bangui — Yaoundé — Lagos.
DRC’s population of 92 million has the potential to contribute to expanded market and investment opportunities.
The Council concluded that the macroeconomic indicators of DRC are not far from those of the EAC members.
DRC shares borders with five of the partner states — Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.
“There is a sense of belonging and attachment to EAC socially, economically, historically, culturally and geographically,” said Mr Mohamed.