Opinion by Hon. Kim Gai Ruot
February 27th 2021, H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit attended the 21st ordinary East African Community Heads of State Summit, where leaders of member states gathered via video conference to discuss effective ways of East African regional integration.
In attendance were, H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit of Republic of South Sudan, H.E. President Paul Kagame of Republic of Rwanda, H.E. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of Republic of Uganda, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta of Republic of Kenya, H.E. Deputy President Samia Suluhu of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E. President Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi.
In his remarks during the summit, H. E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit appealed to EAC’s Secretariat to work with South Sudan officials to restructure the amount South Sudan owes to the EAC emphasizing that it should be done with the goal of finding a suitable formula for instalment repayment over an agreed upon time period. H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit said, if a formula for repayment of arrears is determined, the Government of South Sudan starting this year (2021) is committed to paying its membership fee without default.
As a demonstration of commitment to continue honoring South Sudan’s financial obligations to the East Africa Community, H.E. President Salva Kiir informed the summit that South Sudan has just remitted the sum of USD 1.5 million as a first tranche of a total of USD $ 8.4 million that South Sudan shall fully pay before the end of this year.
H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit appealed for a visa waiver, particularly between South Sudan on one hand and Kenya and Uganda on the other. H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit said, it is in our best interest to ease the movement of people and goods within the region in order to facilitate trade and investment as well as contributing to our end goal of East African regional integration.
H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit updated the summit on the status of South Sudan joining the East African Custom Union and appealed for additional capacity development support, especially to its National Revenue Authority (NRA) from East African Community structures to fast-track joining the custom Unions in the near future.
This year’s summit elected and swore in the new EAC Secretary Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki of Kenya and H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Republic of Kenya took over the Chairmanship of East African Community from H.E. President Paul Kagame of Republic of Rwanda. The Summit also appointed and swore in judges to the East African Court of Justice.
In his speech as the incoming chairman of the EAC , H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta announced that in the spirit of one people one destiny, Kenya will remove all visa restrictions to South Sudan on the bases of reciprocity as requested by H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit in the context of allowing free movement of people in the region.