GASABO - Burundi’s First Vice President, Yves Sahinguvu, yesterday began the first leg of a three-day official visit by holding talks with Prime Minister Bernard Makuza at the latter’s office in Kimihurura. Sahinguvu who arrived in the country last Friday, first had a tête-à-tête with the Prime Minister before holding further discussions with a high-level Rwandan delegation. “As a sister country, we have a lot to share including our history and much more,” Sahinguvu said after meeting Makuza. He explained that his visit was intended to reinforce bilateral relations between the two countries.
He went on to say that since both countries share a common border, he and Makuza discussed security at the border, immigration, education, agriculture, justice, roads, and other regional issues. The revival of CEPGL and benefits of EAC regional groupings were reportedly also on the agenda.
CEPGL is an acronym for the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries, a regional group established in September 1976 to foster economic integration and facilitate the movement of goods and people. It is comprised of Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.
“We have joint commissions to follow-up on these issues on a regular basis,” said the Burundi Vice President.
Rwanda’s delegation included ministers Rosemary Museminali, Stanislas Kamanzi, Théoneste Mutsindashyaka, Protais Musoni and Charles Murigande.
Also present were ORTPN Director Chantal Rugambwa, and the Head of Unity and Reconciliation Commission, Fatuma Ndangiza.
Sahinguvu was accompanied by the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Jean-Jacques Nyenimigabo, Ambassador Nduhirubusa, chief of protocol and, Ambassador Baza Antoine, the Principal Counsellor in charge of political and diplomatic affairs.
The visiting Vice President also explained that the two countries have always cooperated in various areas and Rwanda has much to offer in development and security especially through the ‘Tripartite Plus Joint Commission’.
Set up in 2004, the Commission’s main mandate was to boost peace and security in the Great Lakes’ region. It is facilitated by the US government while the AU, EU and MONUC are observers.
Developments aspects discussed include the Bugesera–Kirundo road which is nearing completion as well as regional questions such as Somalia and Sudan.
The Burundi delegation also hoped to learn much from Rwanda especially how decentralization and, unity and reconciliation efforts are pursued among others.
The Vice President also commented on the political turmoil back home. He said the recent attacks on the capital by the rebel group PALIPEHUTU-FNL should be condemned.
“Our government handled the situation and everything is back to normal now,” he said.
A May 7 regional initiative called upon PALIPEHUTU-FNL leader Agathon Rwasa to return to the discussion table.
PALIPEHUTU-FNL is the only rebel group in Burundi that has not signed a peace agreement with government. Sahinguvu stressed that Rwanda has a strategic role to play in Burundi’s stability.
“When a neighbour is ill, you don’t close your eyes,” he said.
“We collaborate through the tripartite plus in this regard to fight negative forces in the region.”