Kenya and Tanzania, two of the six countries making up the East African Community already enjoy extensive beach perimeters along the Indian Ocean in addition to claiming territories on the myriads of isles and islets dotting the blue sea expanse.
However now with the proposed inclusion of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), into the East African Community will increase the number of EAC member states from six to seven as well as extending the regional boundaries cutting across the heart of the continent from East to West.
But most important, the East African Region will now have two uncanny major seas in its territory, the Indian and Atlantic oceans. This is because DRC borders the Southern Atlantic further west.
A few months ago, the Arusha-based East African Community Secretariat deployed a verification mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to assess the country’s suitability to be admitted into the Community.
The East African Community, at the moment is made up of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the three founding member states, as well as Rwanda, Burundi and South-Sudan, the latter being the latest as well as the newest state in the world.
At the 31st Meeting of the Sectoral Council of Ministers of East African Community’s Affairs and Planning held at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha appointed the special verification team comprised of three experts from each Partner State to be funded by the EAC Secretariat and an additional maximum of two experts to be funded by the nominating Partner State to carry out the Verification Mission.
The Mission, chaired by Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC and Regional Development, Adan Mohamed, directed the Secretariat to submit the report of the Verification Mission to the Council of Ministers by November 2021.
Previously the Summit of EAC Heads of State at its 21st Ordinary Meeting held on 27th February, 2021 considered the application by DRC to join the Community and directed the Council to expeditiously undertake a verification mission in accordance with the EAC procedure for admission of new members into the EAC and report to the 22nd Summit.
Apparently, DRC is the largest country in the Sub-Saharan Africa with a population of 105 million residents, which is equivalent to the total population of the other six EAC members states combined.
The verification team will review the current status of the DRC in international law and establish the country’s level of conformity with the Criteria for admission of foreign countries as provided in the Treaty.
Under the Treaty, the criteria for the admission of new countries into the Community include: acceptance of the Community as set out in the Treaty; adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice; potential contribution to the strengthening of integration within the East African region and geographical proximity.
But the decision to admit DRC into EAC is already being Challenged at the Regional Court of Justice.