14 February 2018

Rwanda: Kagame, Bongo Discuss AU and ECCAS Development

President Paul Kagame and his Gabonese counterpart, Ali Bongo Ondimba, yesterday met to deliberate on a range of issues including African Union, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and bilateral ties between the two countries.

President Bongo had a day long working visit to Rwanda with most of the day being spent in meetings with his host.

Bongo arrived at the Kigali International Airport at around 11am before proceeding to Village Urugwiro where he held meetings before his departure at around 6:30pm.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs louise Mushikiwabo who was present at the meetings told The New Times that the two leaders discussed a wide range of issues, including bilateral ties, African Union, and the Economic Community of Central African States.

President Bongo is the current chairperson of the 11 member ECCAS.

Rwanda rejoined ECCAS in 2015 after an eight-year hiatus with an aim to tap into the potential of the bloc.

Kagame is the current Chairperson of the African Union, having assumed office in January this year.

"The two leaders reviewed the warm bilateral ties between the two nations which are across aspects such as political cooperation, trade and investments. We were tasked to work on a taskforce to further strengthen ties between the two countries," the foreign Affairs minister said.

The meeting also tackled the state of security within the Central African region and ways to improve it.

A number of countries in the Central African region have been experiencing conflict and insecurity leading to slow economic activity.

"ECCAS is currently undergoing reforms to make it more efficient and speed up developments. To facilitate the reforms and look into the security situation, there are a set of meetings scheduled to take place in Gabon.

"There will be a Foreign Affairs Ministers meeting preceding a meeting of the Heads of State," Mushikiwabo said.

Also on the agenda was the soon-to-be launched Continental Free Trade Agreement which will be inked on March 21.

The meeting will be preceded by a meeting of African business community with Heads of State and Government with an aim to foster public-private partnerships.

Gabon's Foreign Minister Noel Nelson Messone said that the leaders also looked into ways to increase integration of ECCAS member states for increased efficiency and productivity.

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