The East African Legislative Assembly(EALA), which resumed in-person meetings last week following a long lock down due to COVID-19, has decided to drag South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya to the East African Court of Justice over continuous violation of article 75 of the treaty.
The three countries continue to charge fees for visa entry and work permits in violation of the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Customs Union which entered into force in 2005 with the main aim of eliminating internal tariffs and other charges of equivalent effect as well as non-tariff barriers in order to smoothen the free movement of goods between the Partner States.
According to article 75 sub-article 7 of the EAC Treaty, the Partner States agreed to conclude a Protocol on the Establishment of a Customs Union within four years from 2005 to implement the free trade area and the customs union simultaneously.
Fifteen years later, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya continue to violate this protocol which countries like Rwanda and Tanzania find offensive and inconsiderate.
EALA members have concluded that these countries must be taken to court of justice to answer for refusing to allow free moments within member states when they are accorded the same benefits by other member states
Speaking to SSBC, Hon Kim Gai Ruot Dup, who represents South Sudan in EALA, says the matter will be taken to court because of inherent violation of the protocols.
South Sudan joined the bloc, which is now composed of six members, recently amid sharp criticisms both from within the country and within East Africa.
By the time South Sudan joined the EALA, dozens of protocols were already ratified and already were being enforced but the decision was left to South Sudan to decide to accept the protocols and fulfill them once admitted.
The other important protocols include the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Common Market which came to force in 2010. This Protocol focuses on the free movement of labor, services and capital while fostering the freedom of establishment and that of residence for EAC Partner States’ nationals.
Another important protocol is the Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Monetary Union which came into force in 2015 after its ratification by all the Partner States with the objective to “promote and maintain monetary and financial stability aimed at facilitating economic integration to attain sustainable growth and development of the Community”.
While economists and political analysts argue that South Sudan does not have the economic capacity and political stability to effectively compete without hurting local production and losing employment to more competent workforce from the region, South Sudanese elites ignored the calls and registered with the regional bloc.
So far, South Sudan has found it hard to meet basic obligations including paying membership dues and implementing the protocols of the treaty.