Newly-independent South Sudan is welcome to join the East African Community (EAC) because it offered a range of opportunities for investment and trade, it was observed here yesterday.The Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala), Mr Abdirahin Haithar Abdi, said in a statement issued here yesterday that the existing economic links between the new state and EAC were enough indicators of better

relations in future.

He said in a congratulatory message that the independence of South Sudan was the culmination of the peaceful process of negotiations between the North and South which was mediated by Kenya and overseen by the EAC bloc.”It also ushers in an aura of peace and stability in the Sudan as a whole. I am confident that the EAC shall continue to support and work closely with peaceful Sudan generally and with South Sudan, in particular,” he pointed out.

Semi-autonomous South Sudan became independent on Saturday after many years of acrimonious relations with the Khartoum authorities.The then vice-president of Sudan, Mr Salva Kiir Mayardit, was on Saturday sworn in as President of the 54th state in the African continent before thousands of cheering people.
Thousands of others watched the well-covered event on TVs across the world.

Full independence for South Sudan, which has been at war for 21 years between 1983 and 2004, came after a referendum held in January this year, in which 98 per cent of the population voted for secession from Khartoum blamed by southerners for discrimination for many years.  Mr Abdi said Eala had watched with admiration developments in South Sudan since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 through to the historic referendum and independence at last on Saturday.

The Eala Speaker also used the opportunity to commend the Sudan President Omar al Bashir and the government of Sudan “for respecting the path” chosen by the newly-born state of South Sudan.

The regional Assembly also paid tribute to the late Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement leader, Dr John Garang de Maibor, for his role in the liberation struggle of his  country which has been at war with the predominantly Muslim and Arab north  for decades stretching back to the 1950s.

Analysts say South Sudan is likely to join EAC in the near future given its increasing trade and economic links with the regional bloc. Officials from its capital, Juba, had been in Arusha in the last few months pledging to apply for EAC membership after attaining independence.



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