Arusha. In November last year, it was Tanzania, the host country, which requested for postponement of the East African Community (EAC) leaders’ summit.
This time around South Sudan wanted the 21st EAC Heads of State meeting scheduled for next Saturday pushed forward to allow it to put its House in order. And the EAC secretariat confirmed yesterday that the summit has been postponed to a later date for a second time in three months until further notice.
South Sudan which formed a new Transitional Government of National Unity (GNU) asked for the regional leaders’ meeting pushed to another date. Juba said formation of the new government “would mean a lot of changes” for it to participate effectively in the summit and preceding activities.
The meeting of the regional leaders was earlier scheduled to take place here on November 30th, last year to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Community. However, it was called off in the last minute due to what senior EAC officials said was a request from Tanzania which was to host the anniversary celebrations.
Until Friday, preliminary preparations for the cancelled high profile meeting of the presidents appeared to be in high gear. Sprucing up and cleaning at the venue, the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC), had started in readiness for the event.
Also rescheduled, according to a statement from the Secretariat, is the EAC Council of Ministers session which lays ground for the summit. The postponment was communicated to the Arusha-based secretariat by the Rwanda minister of State for EAC Ambassador Oliver J.P. Nduhungirehe.
Rwanda is the current Chair of the EAC with President Paul Kagame having taken over as the Chair of the Heads of State Summit after the last summit here on February 1st, 2019. Sources said Juba wanted the meeting postponed until sometime in mid-March “to allow our newly-formed government to continue its business as usual”.
The Summit, made up of the Heads of State or Government of the partner states, is the supreme organ of the EAC and gives general directions on the road map to integration.