Just months after becoming the first Congolese leader to take power in a peaceful transition with the promise of restoring stability to the war-ravaged country, He has now set his ambition to bring his country closer to the East Africa Community.
The Democratic Republic of Congo has formally applied for admission to the six-member East African Community (EAC).
President Tshisekedi this week wrote to his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, who is the current chairman of the EAC, expressing interest to join the East Africa Community whose member states are Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
“This request follows the ever-increasing trade between the economic players of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and those of the states of the Community,” he wrote on June 8.
President Tshisekedi noted that the desire of his government is to join the community of regional leaders “so that we can work together for the development of our respective countries and stabilise this part of Africa.”
The application to join EAC has been a long time coming and Tshisekedi has been on a charm offensive in EAC since he assumed office in January this year in a bid to secure and boost ties.
In the first three months of his presidency, he has visited Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. He is currently in Tanzania on a two-day State visit which began on Thursday.
Last month, Kenya’s former prime minister Raila Odinga as the African Union Special Envoy for Infrastructure and Development met with President Tshisekedi when Mr Odinga visited DRC. It was their fourth meeting this year.
Despite DRC not being a member of EAC yet the country is a crucial player and already contributes something substantial to the community’s welfare.
In terms of trade, DRC accounts for about 6% of total exports from the EAC countries.
The vast natural resource-rich central African country has a small coastline on the western side in Kinshasa and largely depends on the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam for its imports.
Eastern DRC, which is plagued by militia groups and is currently fighting an Ebola outbreak that has claimed nearly 1,400 lives, shares borders with South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.
South Sudan was the latest entrant to the EAC, becoming the sixth member in 2016.
Somalia’s application for admission was frozen due to instability in the country.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a member of Southern African Development Community (SADC).