The bid by South Sudan to join the East African Community could suffer a fresh blow following the fierce fighting in the country last week leading to the death of more than 500 people.
Initially, the fate of Juba’s admission into the EAC bloc would have been known in April next year, but now officials say this insecurity may delay it.
“The current internal crisis in South Sudan does not augur well with its bid for membership in the EAC,” said the Secretariat spokesperson, Owora Richard Othieno.
Mr Owora said that adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice are among the criteria Juba should fulfill.
The EAC Council of Ministers constituted a high level negotiations team that included three members from each partner state to start the negotiations by October 2013 through to March 2014.
“We are calling for immediate restraint and dialogue in the on-going conflict in South Sudan between the two warring parties” he said, “We have already scheduled the first negotiation meeting with South Sudan for January 13 to 22 2014 in Arusha.”
The decision on South Sudan joining the community is expected to be known in April next year following an EAC Heads of States approval for the high level negotiations team to commence the final process.
The negotiation exercise with South Sudan will cost the EAC trading bloc $82,000.
Political analysts are warning that the fighting that resulted from an attempted coup could turn into a full scale civil war unless things are resolved very fast.
“This will not make it any easier for the country when it comes to joining the bloc because the EAC partners will start questioning its political stability and the border security,” said a Kenyan political analyst, who did not want to be named.
“In case the war persists and a new regime takes over, East African countries might decide to put on hold the process until things settle down,” he added.
This, he said, is because the EAC partners would not want to engage a new government they are not sure about.
The negotiations by the team will establish whether South Sudan is committed to addressing all identified challenges in line with the criteria for admission to the EAC.South Sudan has to meet the six conditions of acceptance into the Community as set out in the EAC Treaty which include: Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law and observance of human rights and social justice