Burundi and South Sudan face expulsion from the Eat African Community (EAC) for failure to pay annual contributions to the regional block.
This follows the passing of a resolution by the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Monday, to expel the two East African countries (Burundi and South Sudan) from the EAC community over unpaid arrears which have accumulated over time.
Following the Assembly resolution, the final fate of the two Countries is on the hands of Heads of States.
According to reports, East African member states are required to pay $8 million every year to the bloc but by 10 June 2020, Burundi had arrears of some $15 Million while South Sudan owes $27.8 Million.
Article 143 says a partner state, which defaults in meeting its financial and other obligations, shall be subject to sanctions which the Council of Ministers will recommend to the summit.
Article 146(1) says the summit may suspend a partner state from taking part in activities of the bloc if it fails to fulfill fundamental principles and objectives of the treaty, including the failure to meet financial commitments to the community within a period of 18 months.
South Sudan was also recently suspended from the African Union (AU), for failure to remit contributions amounting to over $9 million.
A suspended partner state shall cease to enjoy benefits provided for under the treaty but shall continue to be bound by membership obligations until the suspension is lifted, Article 146(2) says, in turn.
SOUTH SUDAN NOT A FIRST TIME OFFENDER:
In September 2019, EALA received a petition by a regional activists’ forum to the House to ask the Council to recommend to the Heads of State Summit to invoke Articles 143 and 146 of the EAC Treaty and suspend member states who were defaulting including South Sudan.
EALA leaders contemplated applying sanctions or suspending it’s membership as it was the biggest defaulter though all member states owed the community money at the time.
The petitioners wanted EAC to apply sanctions or suspend South Sudan’s membership over non payment of over $27 million in arrears to the community.
However, some Eala members sympathised with Juba on grounds that it was still going through political and security setbacks.
The East African Civil Society Organisation Forum (EACSOF) also asked Eala to demand for an increased EAC budget from the Council of Ministers for the bloc to cope with the rising wage bill compounded by its expanding scope and swelling number of its institutions.
EACSOF further asked Eala to put to task founding partners states—Tanzania and Kenya—for failing to clear their contributions to the 2018/19 budget.
“EACSOF is seriously worried about the dwindling contributions by partner states towards financing the EAC and more concerned by the non-remittance by one partner state,” the forum’s programme coordinator and acting CEO, Ms Martha Makenge, said in the petition to Eala.
The House unanimously concurred with the EACSOF’s petition adding that the EAC partner states’ delayed contributions were inhibiting the bloc from attaining goals it had set.