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Kinshasa dreams of entering East African Community

By Romain Gras
Posted on Tuesday, 3 March 2020 11:52

East African Community flag © Henri Bergius/Flickr
East African Community flag © Henri Bergius/Flickr

The Democratic Republic of Congo wants to join the East African Community. But the EAC is failing to meet. And internal barriers within the DRC may create a bumpy ride to accession.

Postponed several times, the next East African Community (EAC) summit was scheduled to take place on 29 February in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The DRC will have to wait: EAC conference lacked a quorum, so the latest heads of state meeting has again been postponed.

Kagame was hand over to Uhuru Kenyatta, but this event would have been an opportunity “to start the process of examining Kinshasa’s application for membership of the organisation,” confirmed a representative of a member country of the East African Community.

On 8 June 2019, in a letter addressed to Paul Kagame, the DRC requested its integration into the EAC, which so far comprises Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Southern Sudan.

The February meeting should have made it possible to draw up the necessary timetable for the examination of this request, starting with the dates of visits by EAC delegations to DRC.

No deadline is specified. “The process can be very long,” warned a Rwandan diplomat.

Kigali has already declared itself in favour of its neighbour’s acceptance, but the blockages could occur internally.

READ MORE Rwanda and the DRC get closer despite lingering tensions

In the background, there is a risk that two visions for regional integration could clash in the DRC.

  • On the one hand, Tshisekedi wants to solidify his reconciliation with the countries of the EAC zone with which he has several times shown his solidarity since his inauguration in January 2019.
  • On the other hand, the Kabila camp — and in particular certain generals who have remained loyal to the former president — seem to be looking more towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
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