RUBAVU — The Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) will beginning May this year, start issuing travel documents including passports for people residing in its member states of Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo to facilitate movement and trade.
This was revealed by CEPGL executive secretary Gabriel Toyi, this Thursday, at a meeting that attracted delegates from the three member states at Hotel Bélvédère, in which participants discussed modalities of reviving the organisation, whose operation was halted due to civil wars that rocked the three countries in the past decade.
Toyi said that the travel documents, meant to ensure security of the beholders, will be issued at immigration offices of the three countries to avoid issuing them to wrong elements.
“Nationals holding the issued documents will cross borders without any hindrances and they will be assured of security in the host country,” he explained.
He said CEPGL had an aim of eradicating poverty through trade, building confidence among member countries and creating business connection across the existing natural borders.
“According to the agreement binding members signed in 1976, by the then Heads of states, CEPGL was meant to address a wide range of issues, among them uphold security in the member countries, business cooperation, and collaboration in harnessing economic development activities,” Toyi said.
He said that the meeting was a platform for the delegates to iron out factors that undermined their operation, in order to revive the cooperation to promote peace and stability in the region.
He noted that wars, poverty and underdevelopment which have affected the three countries in the past years, can partly be blamed on the failure of CEPGL. Mistrust and hostility of recent years had served to undermine CEPGL activities, he said.
The revival of the defunct economic bloc follows the recommendation of Presidents Paul Kagame and his Burundian counterpart Pierre Nkurunziza.