ADDIS ABABA – South Sudan finance Ministry diplomats suffered a rather diplomatic humiliation yesterday after their delegation landed in a COMESA (common market for Eastern and Southern Africa) meeting uninvited. The delegation headed by the newly appointed Minister of Finance and Economic planning, Hon. David Deng Athorbei boarded a plane from Juba to attend a COMESA meeting with no prior knowledge that South Sudan is not a member of COMESA and hasn’t applied to join yet.
The meeting brought together finance ministers and politicians from Southern and Eastern African countries to deliberate and sign interim economic partnership agreements (EPA), market liberalisation and development cooperation among others.
Athorbei and his finance representatives for South Sudan did not only have seats at the venue, they were also made to wander around standing and also made to tussle with security personals.
The matter was made worst because some members from Southern African States don’t know Athorbei being a finance Minister anywhere. Ethiopian prime Minister, Haile Mariam Desalegn, the chairman of COMESA and his state Minister for trade Yakob Yalla had to intervene and discuss the matter personally with Athorbei. PM Desalegn assigned Athorbei and his team an “observer” status to avoid diplomatic embarrassment of them returning to Juba on the day.
“It’s surprising that South Sudan didn’t join a huge and beneficial economic community like COMESA. I personally didn’t know that we are not a part of COMESA or I would have not come. But we have learnt a lot from these economic partnerships offered by COMESA and hope to join it and become beneficial members” Athorbei said afterwards.
South Sudan applied to join EAC (East African Community), Commonwealth and Arab league. These organisations are yet to fully answer to the country’s request. The country is already a member of half a dozen of international organisations most of which are humanitarian based.
THE UPPER NILE TIMES