SPATS AHEAD OF EAC SUMMIT IN BUJUMBURA
Old and new rifts emerged in the meetings preparing for the council of ministers and the head of state summit later this week in Bujumbura, when news emerged from there that new battle lines were being drawn up. The application by the Bashir regime in Khartoum, to join the exclusive club of East African nations, generally thought to be deliberately mischievous and ill intended to disturb the joining process of the newly independent Republic of South Sudan, has divided the member countries and Uganda and Tanzania have made it plain, ahead of the summit, that they stand radically opposed to entertaining the application, for any number of reasons but the given one being that North Sudan has no borders with any EAC member state, which makes joining under present rules impossible. Uganda of course has been a victim of Bashir when he had the LRA fight a proxy war in retaliation of the Ugandan support for the then liberation movement SPLM which is now in power, having gotten a near 100 percent yes vote for independence during the January referendum which led to a break away in July this year.
In contrast to the North does South Sudan have borders with Kenya and Uganda, which makes their application to join meeting key criteria, adding the fact that English is widely spoken in the South and many South Sudanese lived for long in exile across Eastern Africa while Bashir made war on their homes region. Kenya is thought to be pondering, having maintained cordial relations with Bashir who is a wanted man by the ICC over massive allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as manifested in his latest round of ethnic cleansing in Abyei, South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where he is again standing in the way of freedom and liberty for the predominantly African populations.
However, other issues with a longer history also keep emerging as Tanzania defied the four other members who had put pen to paper for a road map on political integration and the creation of the long envisaged Federation. When the delegations assembled Tanzania had notably gone AWOL, a clear indication that serious disagreements were not bridged and slapping the other member state delegations literally in the face through absenteeism. Officials were weary to comment on the record and tried to play down the significance of the lastest Tanzanian objection, with one expressing his hope that their signature will follow later, for sure, when only one thing has ever been certain that one can count on Tanzanian huffing and puffing, being dragged screaming and kicking into East Africa like Margret Thatchers UK back in her days when it came to European integration. With the fast tracking of a single currency also on the agenda, as well as dealing, jointly or individually with the present economic problems caused by wide spread electricity shortages, devaluation of the respective currencies and run away inflation, sparks are sure to fly behind closed doors when the smiles of the photo sessions are likely to turn into something quite different.
Meanwhile are tourism sources still hoping that a common East African visitors Visa will be sanctioned at last to spur travel across the entire region, something which might hugely benefit the regions tourism industry, but again, turf protection may once more override this long hoped for innovation. Watch this space.