South Sudan’s economic woes are affecting diplomatic representation – this time relative to membership of the regional bloc, the East African Community. The country risks expulsion from the EAC because it has defaulted over membership dues.
The EAC’s Assembly recently voted to expel South Sudan and serial defaulter, Burundi. A final decision on the issue will be taken when leaders of the member nations next meet. The bloc comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan.
EAC members are supposed to pay $8m a year in dues. Burundi has not paid for four years – which comes up to over $30m, while South Sudan owes $10 million.
It is the second such headache that the government in Juba is having to deal with after the African Union, last month blocked South Sudanese diplomats from engaging in certain activities of some organs.
The country, Africa’s youngest, is struggling to cope with an economic crisis, caused in part by a recent civil war that has affected oil production – a major income stream for the government.
South Sudan is not alone in the EAC’s “bad books,” Burundi is in a worse shape relative to its debts and inability to comply. The country’s failure to pay is partly premised on its unsuccessful bid to have the dues lowered according to some reports. Gitega insists that its economy is smaller than its neighbours.