The ongoing bilateral talks between Rwanda and Burundi which aim to deal with common border demarcation issues, that date back to the colonial history of the two countries, were long overdue.
In 1958, there was a protocol dividing Rwanda and Burundi, signed by Belgium, but this did not have any accompanying documentation – a source of the problem today, because a map would have given clear demarcations of the border.
The Foreign Ministers of the two countries have, however, dismissed rumours that a border dispute is brewing between them.
However, they do acknowledge 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.
These are issues that can be resolved amicably and should not be a source of any political tensions.
The five-day meetings should decisively assess the work of the joint technical teams that have been working on the matter, and build upon their recommendations to ensure an indisputable, legitimate framework for demarcating the borders, for the full benefit of all posterity.
The meeting also takes place, against a long drawn background since 2006, of joint technical teams from both countries having discussions on the matter, but failing to find common ground.
It is therefore, our
most fervent hope that the Ministers iron out the issues concerning the demarcation of the common border.
The Ministers meeting should be informed by the fact that this problem is not of their own making, but rather inherited from the bad politics of divide and conquer, which was the basis of colonial rule throughout Africa. We have seen other border disputes on the continent turn into never-ending bloody conflicts, the irony however, being that in most cases these are people who co-existed, sharing a common heritage in their pre-colonial history.
With the advent of the East African Community (EAC), and its vision of freeing the borders for the citizens and goods, individual countries’ strategies have changed for the better, inspired by the desire for economic growth, in the hope of lifting their citizens out of poverty.
We do hope Rwanda and Burundi close the dark chapter of the past, and the Ministers meeting is an indication of a new dawn beckoning.