KIGALI - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, has said that the Economic Community for the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) needs to undergo serious changes if it is to fulfill its mandate.
The Minister made the remarks while appearing before the Senate to answer queries on the regional body’s integration process.
CEPGL brings together Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Mushikiwabo said CEPGL is “crawling” due to a number of factors, including the poor mindset among the Secretariat’s staff and the 10 years of its passive existence following regional instabilities.
She said the efforts to revamp the organization started three years ago, following meetings between Heads of State, ministers and other officials.
“There is a will among all the three members to see the bloc progress, but its institutions are still poorly organized, less productive and heavily indebted,” Mushikiwabo said.
She added that following a meeting of ministers in Rubavu last year, an auditing team to study various setbacks in CEPGL and suggest possible solutions was set up..
“During the meeting, we learnt that the staff at the Secretariat, are only concerned by their personal financial benefits rather than the interests of the organization. This is dangerous,” she said.
Mushikiwabo added that the organization is very important to all member countries in terms of economic, security, and other areas of development.
“Given the problems recorded, we agreed to the restructuring of CEPGL and its institutions, and possibly reshuffle it right from scratch. This is among the tasks assigned to the auditing team,” she said.
The Minister noted that the Secretariat already has a new Executive Secretary.
Meanwhile, it was disclosed that, of all the three members, only Rwanda had honored its financial commitments while the DRC had the biggest debt.
However, the minister told the Senate that Rwanda has suggested increased political dialogue as the best way to forge a brighter future for the organization.