Friday, April 27, 2007

Burundi, Rwanda, RDC renew their cooperation after 14 years

BUJUMBURA, April 17, 2007 (AFP) - Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday relaunched the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), an organisation that has been dormant for 13 years.

Diplomatic heads from the three nations participated in the meeting, which will relaunch an organisation begun in 1976 but inactive because of war and rebellion that has plagued the region.

Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht was also in Bujumbura for the occassion, representing the former colonial power in the three nations.

"We are going to relaunch the CEPGL. The revival of economic cooperation between Rwanda, the DRC and Burundi is very important for this region from an economic point of view but also from a political one. This cooperation, if well-developed, will ensure lasting piece and stability in this region," the Belgian minister said.

"The CEPGL has been active in the past, but the war that has ravaged the region has brought its activity to almost zero," he said.

The relaunch program includes a budget for the first year of 970,000 dollars, financed primarily by Belgium and the European Union, and the creation of an interim executive secretary.

The organisation will permit the free movement of people and goods within the region, and plans to create a regional bank and an institute for agricultural research.

The Great Lakes Countries were plagued by violence in the 1990s, with the beginning of the ongoing civil war in Burundi in 1993, the Rwandan genocide in 1994, which was followed by rebellions and regional warfare in the DRC.


Copyright (c) 2007 Agence France-Presse
Received by NewsEdge Insight: 04/17/2007 10:57:37

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