South Sudan needs a Referendum joining East African bloc

BY: Peter Gai Manyuon, JUBA, NOV/17/2013, SSN;

The application of the Republic of South Sudan in joining the East African Community had been a debatable issue among the citizens of South Sudan since the negotiations had been moving on beginning after the declaration of the South Sudan as an Independent nation on the 9th July 2011.

Most of the people of South Sudan are having different thinking and views about whether the new nation should join the bloc or not, and therefore, in the inside article, you will see my observations and recommendations why am saying a Country like a South Sudan should go for a peaceful and transparent referendum to determine the fate of this country to join or not to be part of the bloc.

However, South Sudan’s application to join the East African economic bloc is running into headwinds as divisions among senior government officials, and the entire nation at large in Juba and apparent hesitancy on the part of one of the partner states takes Centre stage.

Moreover, in July this year, the East African Community (EAC) sent a team to the country to verify its readiness for membership. The team’s report was submitted to the council of ministers late last month during a meeting in Burundi.

While Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda found the team’s findings comprehensive enough to make deliberations on the admissibility of South Sudan into the community fold, Tanzania wants more time to review the report.

“The United Republic of Tanzania informed the council that it had received the report on Friday, August, 23 2012 and therefore, had not exhaustively consulted with all key stakeholders on the matter,” reads a report on the council of ministers’ meeting.

The verification committee report revealed that there were different views among South Sudan’s government officials on the country’s planned EAC membership even the entire citizens are having different projections and views over the issue.

Others are saying South Sudan should join the bloc after some years because nothing is good yet in the Country as there is no respect for the rule of law, no human rights in place, and even freedom of expression is another critical agenda identified by most of the inhabitants of South Sudanese at the movement.

Hence, others are of the view that South Sudan as a Country should address the issue of social services like Roads, hospitals and schools and after wards, South Sudan will reach at the level of a good standard and therefore, might be the time for this country to join.

On the other hand also, in South Sudan, the issue of insecurity, lack of good education background and good approaches for the democratization process should be observed first before rushing to join the east African bloc.

Hence, that is why am calling for the government of South Sudan to organize for a referendum whether this country will join or not.

Well, there might be benefits when South Sudan joins East African Community like the free market, free transit and visas, security issue and good international relations which can benefit people of this Country from one point to another but the question is, is the Government of Salva Kiir ready?

While some officials favor immediate entry, others feel that the country should be granted observer status first.

Further, some policy makers would rather have bilateral agreements with EAC member states separately.

It also noted that although South Sudan had put in place legal and institutional frameworks that would enable it to meet membership requirements as outlined in the EAC treaty, these institutions were still in their infancy or not yet operational.

Analysis about South Sudan joining EAC block:

Viewing at South Sudan as a Country compared to the other Countries like Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania, you find that the Country is still lacking.

Citizens of the South Sudan were not informed and aware about the idea of the new Republic to join East African Community, it had been the Government agenda that isolated the entire population that is supposed to determine the issue whether South Sudan can join or not.

Government of the President salva Kiir Mayardit had been moving forward strongly for the new nation to be accepted and the citizens that make up this Country are disagreeing up to this moment.

Most of the citizens term the negotiation as interest-driven from a small group of people in the government of the Republic of South Sudan.

Interestingly, the whole Country is at the stage of disintegration over the idea of joining the block or not.

Key Recommendations:

President of the Republic of South Sudan should really respect the voices of the entire citizens of this Country because this is a serious issue that needs good discussion and approach at this particular period of time.

There is need to involve the civil society Organizations, faith base, the entire citizens of South Sudan with the inclusion of different political parties in the process, because it will be the responsibility of different stakeholders to enlighten the people of this nation about the shortcomings and the advantages of South Sudan joining East African community.

In summary, for the Country of South Sudan to be free from Tribalism, corruption, nepotism and sectarianism there is need to work together as the team with one principle that is accompanied by democratization, respect for other people opinions and adherence to the dignity of the people of this great nation.

The author is Independent Journalist and a writer who wrote articles extensively on the issue of Democratization, Human Rights in South Sudan, you can contact him through ;


  1. Gabu opikoli says:

    South Sudan with dirty work of Kiir with disappearing of people like Isaac Abraham, corruption, intimidation of Ugandans in the hands of security organs of south Sudan.
    south Sudan must first learn how to adhere with basic human rights, freedom of speech, until this is done otherwise it is just disaster to admit south Sudan with blood on its hands to join the bloc.

  2. Joana Adams says:

    This is utter nonsense. Where on earth do you find children joining the club of grown ups? The club of grown ups will be governed by the rules of grown ups. Are we now to believe that this child that at times is being rushed to intensive care can now run before walking?
    Ladies and gentleman, some times it is understandable that we want to feel we are equals of our peers and we want to stand shoulder to shoulder with them. No amount of wishful thinking not even throwing the people’s dollars at the others apparently hungry leaders of the East African region, will correct the deep imbalance which exists, which common sense let alone a referendum must inform us about.
    Salva Kiir and his advisors can fly to the capital cities of the other presidents for weekend retreats but for God’s sake, let this country for once get its priorities right.
    We need to consolidate and operationalise our institutions, observe human rights, develop the infrastructure for basic services and start providing the majority of our people with peace dividends they have been promised, grow our economy, diversify our economy and get our people working hard like East Africans before we expose them to competitions which will knock them out.
    Salva Kiir doesn’t feel confident in the presence of other world leaders including leaders from our neighbouring countries. His body language showed that he didn’t feel confident in the presence of his former VP, either?
    Does Kiir want to expose our unprepared people to develop same feeling of inferiority complex and thereby destroy the nation before it is given a fair chance?
    My opinion is, no to referendum, no to joining the EA block at this stage, but since we are not an island in the midst of nowhere and we may do with some moral support and learning from others, (as long as we learn the right things),’ we may have an observer status.
    If the other 5 nations of the block in their accumulated “wisdom” , cannot give their “young” brother the correct advice, then we can only assume that there is a hidden agenda behind this extension of open hands.
    Let’s hope Tanzania that has always been a hope of wisdom since the time of Great Mwalimu (Nyerere), will speak some sense into the others and save South Sudan.
    The president doesn’t know what he is talking about when he carelessly declares that from now on Rwandans,………etc, can come into South Sudan without visas?
    Just what planet are you living on, Mr. President? God save our country!

    • Kidepo says:

      It is erroneous for South Sudan to welcome its neighborhoods from the Eastern African block to come without visas as an anticipation to join the EA block because it is too early for us. There is difference between South Sudanese going to EA-mostly for education and health, meaning South Sudanese going or staying in EA play a bigger role in EA reserves by supplying these countries with hard currency they used for consumption of services, while contrary the EA people come to South Sudan to siphon the little money we have in South Sudan to their respective countries through earning from their businesses in South Sudan.

      Therefore, joining the block at this initial stage will deprive our business people ample opportunity to develop the domestic market which is already 99% foreign trader’s occupants. As we sign up the document for instance to join the block there are rules that include waving of visas, import and custom taxes among other economic barriers that give incentives to our local traders. These are some of the main reasons why EA block has been pulling our hands to sign the document without giving us opportunity to develop our GDP and domestic markets first.

      By joining the block, the foreign investors from the block will be main players of both sides; the local and international market in South Sudan and in EA-meaning we have given them joker cards to play both music which woill then in turn to throw our poor traders out form their only domestic market in the world through competition and we cannot do anything since we had signed the document for instance. We had been throughout discussing with some of these EA people but they always shy out from the people they know are learned or aware.

      For President Kiir, he will lose nothing financially because as an African President like other African corrupt leaders he might have saved/earned a lot from public fund and his ABMC construction company, only some of our communities will remain poor forever (the so called those who did not fight the war)!


    • Dan says:

      Joana Adams,

      I entirely agree with you on this issue. Our people need time to gain their self confidence. No need to rush into this club.

  3. Dear Peter Gai Manyuon:

    Joining East Africa Bloc is not a bad idea. But Kirr could have first of all developed the country before being pulled by the horns like a cow by President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. I have seen South Sudan here in the United States in the videos, it is really disgusting to see! Look market places in the South, all very FILTHY! Roads are very bad! and many things! Thanks. Do not weep much! Things will be fine one day in your country!!!

  4. Peter Gai Manyuon says:

    Dear Readers,
    Thank you so much for the comments, let hope for the best in the Republic of South Sudan. God is the way.
    Peter Gai Manyuon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.