East African states to welcome South Sudan into regional bloc in July

08:09, May 31, 2011      

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East African states are ready to welcome South Sudan into the East African Community (EAC) once it completes the secession process from the North in July, a senior EAC official said in Moroto, Uganda over the weekend.

Beatrice Kiraso, deputy secretary general in charge of political federation, told hundreds of people who attended the Eighth Edition of Tegla Loroupe Peace Race in Moroto district, northeastern Uganda that South Sudan has already expressed interest in joining the regional bloc.

"Now that South Sudan has attained independence, we the EAC are looking forward to welcoming you into the community," she told former cattle rustlers from Uganda, Kenya and South Sudan, government officials from Uganda and Kenya, and other local authorities.

South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for secession from the North in a referendum that took place in January this year. The region is expected to be declared officially independent in July.

South Sudan is one of the leading trading partners with the EAC, a regional bloc bringing together five countries, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

Uganda has overtaken Kenya as the leading trading partner with South Sudan. Last year, Uganda's exports to South Sudan were worth 187 million U.S. dollars, while Kenya's were 184 million dollars.

Kenya is though the leading investor in South Sudan's capital Juba, whose authorities have increasingly turned to sub-Saharan Africa, especially East Africa, for economic, cultural and political ties.

Meanwhile, the peace race that was held on Saturday was intended to bring together the warring communities in the border districts of Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan.

According to Tegla Loroupe, UN ambassador for peace through sports and also organizer of the race, the move is intended to create friendship among the communities and also discuss promoting peace in the region.

The districts have for decades faced cross border armed cattle rustling that has led to loss of human life, theft of cattle and stalled economic development.

Source: Xinhua
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