Burundi-Rwanda hold bilateral talks

KIGALI - The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda and Burundi are meeting in Kigali to discuss bilateral issues. High on the agenda of the five-day talks is the setting up of a Joint Commission on Cooperation and discussing unresolved border demarcation issues. Speaking to reporters, the ministers dismissed as rumours that a border dispute is brewing between the two neighbours. Rosemary Museminali and Augustin Nsanze stressed that there is no conflict resulting from the issue. 
Foreign Ministers Rosemary Museminali of Rwanda (R) and Augustin Nsanze of Burundi talking to the media yesterday. (Photo/ J. Mbanda)
Foreign Ministers Rosemary Museminali of Rwanda (R) and Augustin Nsanze of Burundi talking to the media yesterday. (Photo/ J. Mbanda)

KIGALI - The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda and Burundi are meeting in Kigali to discuss bilateral issues.

High on the agenda of the five-day talks is the setting up of a Joint Commission on Cooperation and discussing unresolved border demarcation issues.

Speaking to reporters, the ministers dismissed as rumours that a border dispute is brewing between the two neighbours.

Rosemary Museminali and Augustin Nsanze stressed that there is no conflict resulting from the issue. 

“There is no conflict that has been manifested up to today,” Museminali said.

Her Burundian counterpart acknowledged that the present disagreements over some parts of the common borderline stem from flawed and ambiguous colonial demarcations, and do not imply the existence of tensions.

Joseph Kabakeza, the Director General of Bilateral and Multilateral Cooperation, this week told The New Times that the border issue is a residue of the Belgian colonialists.

“In 1958, there was a protocol dividing Rwanda and Burundi, signed by Belgium, but this did not have any accompanying map – which is the source of the problem because a map would have given clear demarcations of the border,” Kabakeza said.

“These are really not difficult issues that we cannot resolve. We are going to look at what our joint technical teams agreed on and what they did not. It is not difficult, but it is you (the media) making it sound difficult,” Nsanze said.

After independence, the border line remained vague and often confusing as most of the separating features – especially streams and hills, have since dried up or eroded. 

Since 2006, joint technical teams from both countries have held a series of meetings but failed to agree on “a few issues,” which the ministers now hope to iron out.

The recommendations of the meeting are slated to be reached on Friday after which the bilateral cooperation talks will commence. 

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