South Sudan has settled its $7 million arrears with the East African Community (EAC), positioning itself to assume the chair of the regional bloc later this week.

This payment removes a significant obstacle that had threatened President Salva Kiir’s chairmanship, overcoming Juba’s status as the largest defaulter with $30 million in arrears as of last week.

As one of the youngest EAC members, South Sudan will lead the bloc for the first time amid regional challenges, including non-tariff barriers affecting intra-member state trade.

Kiir’s term coincides with Somalia’s application for EAC membership, while South Sudan grapples with internal challenges such as conflicts and an impending General Election.

Pending arrears remain a contentious issue within the bloc, with accusations of countries failing to meet their financial obligations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, admitted last year, is yet to offset its $14.7 million arrears. Other outstanding amounts include Burundi’s $15.5 million, Tanzania’s $123,694, Rwanda’s $7.3 million, and Uganda’s $6.1 million, while Kenya has no arrears.

In response, lawmakers at the East African Legislative Assembly proposed a motion urging the Council of Ministers to suspend member states failing to fulfill financial obligations.

The motion faced opposition from DRC l

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan (centre) during a past event. Photo (State House Juba-Twitter)
President Salva Kiir of South Sudan (centre) during a past event. Photo (State House Juba-Twitter)

awmakers who walked out, and it is expected to return for debate next month during EALA’s last sitting of 2023.

Mr Kiir replaces Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye, concluding his one-year tenure earlier this year.