The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda, Burundi Provinces to Strengthen Ties

Eastern Province leaders and their counterparts from Burundi's provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga have agreed to strengthen socio-economic ties.

A 25-person delegation, led by governors Reverien Nzigamasabo and Ildephonse Ntawunkunda of Kirundo and Muyinga, respectively, was on Tuesday in Rwamagana to discuss with their Rwandan counterparts, issues of mutual interest, officials said.

Host governor Odette Uwamaliya (Eastern Province) said drug dealers, fraud, illegal movement of nationals of both countries across the porous borders were some of the issues that would be addressed through strengthening the cooperation.

She noted that the discussions were aimed at uprooting any stumbling block, adding that crimes of any kind would be countered by security operatives from the two countries.

"We share a lot in common. Our languages and culture are almost the same. This relationship has to be an advantage to help us develop the economies of our people faster. It is a process well orchestrated," said Uwamariya.

Border challenges

"There is a big issue of drugs, many Burundians, like some Rwandans, are involved in trafficking cannabis and many other sorts of illegal drugs across the borders. So, we share common issues. It is illegal in either country and we must fight it," the Eastern Province Police Commander, Chief Sup. Elias Mwesigye, said.

Kirundo Governor Nzigamasabo reiterated the need to stop illegal crossing of borders by nationals of the two countries. Nzigamasabo, however, blamed the practice on what he called "cumbersome procedures of acquiring travel documents" in his country.

"We need to streamline immigration procedures so that people can get travel documents easily. People have to travel about 60 kilometres to get travel documents in Burundi. It explains why they sneak out without documents," he said.

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