The Democratic Republic of Congo’s vision to be integrated into the East African Community (EAC) took another step forward after the bloc launched a verification mission to the central African country on Friday.
The mission was launched by EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki alongside Congolese president Felix Tshishekedi in the eastern DR Congo town of Goma.
The team, led by Christophe Bazivamo, will be in the DR Congo from June 25 to July 4 to assess the country’s suitability for admission into the EAC.
The team consists of three experts from each partner state funded by the EAC Secretariat and an additional maximum of two experts to be funded by the nominating Partner State to carry out the mission.
It is expected to review the current status of the DR Congo in international law and establish the country’s level of conformity with the criteria for admission of foreign countries, among other criteria.
Following the verification, a report will then be compiled and presented to the EAC Council of Ministers who will then table it before the Summit of EAC Heads of State. The heads of state will then consider whether to admit the DR Congo into the bloc.
Tshisekedi welcomed the progress made by the EAC in its integration agenda while reiterating his country’s commitment to joining the EAC at the earliest opportunity.
Mathuki said the potential entry of the DR Congo into the EAC would strengthen the bloc both economically and geopolitically.
“DR Congo neighbours five EAC Partner States, namely Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan. DR Congo would be an important country if it joins the East African Community and her entry would strengthen historical relations with East Africa,” Mathuki said.
#EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki, @pmathuki presents the #EAC Flag to #DRC President, Felix Tshisekedi, @Presidence_RDC, marking the launch of the verification mission on #DRC's admission to the #EAC pic.twitter.com/g8I5uLpVzq
— East African Community (@jumuiya) June 25, 2021
“The people of DR Congo would benefit because of the free movement of people from DR Congo other countries without a visa if they are fully in the EAC.”
Other benefits to the DR Congo include free movement of goods especially to the country’s eastern region, which relies on the Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports for imports and exports.
It will also be able to nominate nine members to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and judges to the East African Court of Justice, the bloc’s judicial organ.