H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President made a formal application to join the East African Community in 2011, just a few months after South Sudan’s independence. Application for membership was made on a wave of optimism since gaining full independence after almost half a century of an armed struggle. In 2012, the EAC Institutions carried out an assessment mission to South Sudan and the following year the Government of South Sudan Ministerial Delegation visited the EAC Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania.
Following these initial exchanges, in December 2013 the East African Community opened a formal process of negotiations for accession of South Sudan to the EAC.
Prior to commencing the negotiations, the newest country in the world – South Sudan – needed to create relevant institutions for this purpose. In 2014, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of South Sudan issued a decree creating the High-Level Committee for South Sudan Accession to the EAC and the South Sudan Secretariat for the same purpose. He has also appointed two co-Chairs of the High Level Committee. Hon. Barnaba Marial Benjamin and Hon. Aggrey Tisa Sabuni were not only co-Chairs of the committee but also Chief Negotiators for South Sudan’s accession to the EAC.
After South Sudan made necessary preparations, formal Negotiations commence in late 2014. Over the next year, five (5) negotiations rounds took place. These negotiation rounds assessed, in great detail, South Sudan’s polices in nearly all areas of government work. The Negotiation sought to verify the level of compliance of South Sudan’s policies with those of the EAC and analyse the country’s level of preparedness for membership. The concluding Ministerial Report from these negotiations noted that “South Sudan meets the criteria for accession to the EAC”. This eventually led EAC Heads of State to decide to accept South Sudan to the EAC in April, 2016. In May, 2016 H.E. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, the President of the Republic of Tanzania and H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, the President of the Republic of South Sudan signed the Treaty of Accession of South Sudan to the EAC. This Treaty was ratified later that year by the National Legislative Assembly of South Sudan and the instruments of ratification were deposited with the EAC Secretary General in Arusha, Tanzania in late September, 2016. As a result South Sudan became a full Member of the East African Community on the first of October, 2016.
After South Sudan gained full membership in the EAC it was important for the country to join all key EAC Institutions. Participation in these institutions is a critical first step to effectively implement the Community’s reforms. South Sudan is now a part of the East African Court of Justice and the East African Legislative Assembly or the Inter-University Council of East Africa.