The New Times (Kigali)

17 March 2008

East Africa: Burundi to Support CEPGL

Rubavu — Burundian Minister of Regional Integration and East African Community, Venerand Bakevyumusaya, has said that his government will do everything possible to support the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) which groups together Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.

"I'm impressed by the steps taken by CEPGL in bringing together the three member states. We have received reports about their activities; the Burundian minister said.

He said that CEPGL had in the past built cooperation and unity among its members but was later affected by a vicious circle of underdevelopment and wars. He said it was high time to the organization's effectiveness was strengthened as it had been affected by mistrust and hostility in recent years.

Bakevyumusaya pointed out that the current political stability in the three countries resulted in last year's ministerial meeting in Burundi called to design ways of re-launching CEPGL activities .He added that the European unions and the Belgian government fully supported the restarting of the organisation.

According to the Executive Secretary CEPGL, Toyi Gabriel, the organization has faced many challenges including lack of enough personnel.

"The organization is supposed to have three permanent workers and representatives from each country, but up to now we have not yet received representatives from the DRC which is affecting our work. We have been expecting them since June last year but up to now they have not turned up" he said

He called upon the Burundian Minister to encourage his DRC counterpart on the issues of sending Congolese representatives at the headquarters in Gisenyi

Toyi said that the absence of the Congolese representatives has affected the organization's plans such organization of Ministerial and Presidential meeting of CEPGL member states since they can't be done without full representatives from the three states

He added that other challenges included the delay of some member countries in giving their financial contribution to the organization and that CEPGL had in the past depended on donations by the European Union and contributions from the Rwandan and Burundian governments, The Democratic Republic of Congo is yet to submit its contribution thereby causing financial challenges to the organization.

An agreement signed by all three countries states that CEPGL activities will be financed by annual contributions from the three member states, a factor that has

The Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) was established in September 1976 and comprises institutions shared by Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Its main aim is to foster economic integration and facilitate the movement of goods and people.

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