EDITORIAL: Regional camaraderie is not about endless meetings

In the next couple of months, Burundi will be holding national and presidential elections. It is in that vein that a regional grouping; the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), suggested sending an observer team during the elections.

In the next couple of months, Burundi will be holding national and presidential elections. It is in that vein that a regional grouping; the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), suggested sending an observer team during the elections.

The ICGLR will definitely not be the only organisation sending an observer mission, but it is better placed to make a bigger impact on Burundi’s tinderbox political environment.

Many countries tend to disregard shaky situations in neighbouring countries, on the excuse that they do not meddle in sovereign matters, even though warning signs that things could get out of hand are there.

But this is not about Burundi or its politics; it is about responsible good neighbourliness and giving a helping hand. The first sign of kindness should be sound advice to leaders of volatile states or those that show symptoms of possible unrest.

As has been the case in the past, any trouble that breaks out in the region tends to spill over to neighbouring states, and those with weak systems – like the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – struggle to shake them off unsuccessfully for decades.

It is time countries became their neighbours’ keepers and put aside diplomatic posturing and empty statements of “condemnations” when things get out of hand, when it is too late. Straight talking should be the hallmark of regional organisations such as the ICGLR.

But above all, they should be able to read the signs and nip any problem in the bud, otherwise trouble will come knocking on their doors as they were busy engaging in fruitless meetings and setting up toothless committees.

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