Somalia Joins East African Community After Signing Treaty

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Three weeks after being approved at a leaders’ summit in Arusha, Tanzania, Somalia was on Friday formally admitted as the 8th member state of the East African Community (EAC).

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signed the Treaty of Accession in the presence of South Sudan President Salva Kiir, the current chair of the East African Community and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni at a ceremony held in Entebbe, Uganda.

The EAC is a trade bloc as well as a customs union. But the region’s biggest economies – Kenya and Tanzania, have been accused of attempts to stifle free trade.

The bloc has been criticized for expanding too fast at the expense of achieving meaningful integration.

Just like with the admission of Somalia, the community was criticized for approving the membership of the Democratic Republic of Congo, whose eastern region remains at war.

The region is also beset by political conflicts between member states, which critics say are undermining the bloc’s progress. Kinshasa for example accuses Kigali of waging war against it by using the M23 rebels as a proxy.