DR Congo officially becomes full member of the East African Community

The flags of some of the member states of the East African Community./Getty Images

The Democratic Republic of Congo is officially a full member of the East African Community (EAC) after depositing its instruments of ratification with the bloc’s secretariat on Monday.

A delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs Christophe Lutundula presented the documents during a ceremony at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The flags of some of the member states of the East African Community. /Getty Images

This means DR Congo becomes the seventh partner state of the EAC and has full and equal rights as an EAC member in addition to full obligations and privileges.

The country will benefit from the free movement of people from the DR Congo to other countries without a visa, in addition to free movement of goods especially to its eastern region, which relies on the Dar es Salaam and Mombasa ports for imports and exports.

The DR Congo 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.

“Today is a very significant day for the Community and for the DRC. It marks the completion of the processes and procedures towards DRC becoming a full member of the East African Community,” EAC Secretary-General Peter Mathuki said.

Mathuki noted that the addition of the DR Congo will bring a lot of “value” to the bloc and thanked President Felix Tshisekedi and his administration for a speedy ratification process.

“Although the date envisaged to submit the documents was the month of September, you are depositing the instruments two months earlier. Therefore, that demonstrates your commitment and willingness to be part of the East African Community,” he said.

He pledged to initiate a speedy process to fully integrate the DR Congo into the programs and activities of the bloc, including beginning the process of having the DR Congo’s EALA members in office to commence their duties in December.

Lutundula, on his part, reiterated that the DR Congo will respect and honor all its commitments and pledges in joining the regional bloc.

Mathuki added that the EAC does not intend to halt its expansion following the inclusion of the DR Congo but did not elaborate further on which country may join.

“The DRC joins the Community at a time that the Community, actually, is looking at expanding. We hope that DRC will not be the last member to join the Community. We will be having other partner states joining.”

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)