MPs in fresh push for regional peace

Lawmakers from the trilateral grouping of the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) have committed to ensure that peace and security prevails in the region.

Lawmakers from the trilateral grouping of the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL) have committed to ensure that peace and security prevails in the region.

This was one of the resolutions adopted at the end of a three-day meeting in Rubavu District last weekend.

Established in September 1976, the CEPGL comprises the DR Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. Peace and security is one of the objectives of the CEPGL.

A statement released at the end of the meeting said the lawmakers committed “to contribute to the implementation of the Framework Agreement of Addis Ababa by creating conditions conducive for peace, security and stability in our countries.”

The AU Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for DR Congo and the region is an accord signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on February 24, by 11 countries including CEPGL members, Angola, Republic of Congo, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and Zambia. Its aim is to end decades of civil war and suffering in DRC and the region.

The MPs and Senators also committed to work towards the establishment of an organ of Peace and Security in the CEPGL to allow continuous monitoring on related issues.

MP Zeno Mutimura, who attended the meeting, said yesterday: “The meeting was held in a rare cordial atmosphere. To me, what is new is the renewed commitment to play our role as parliaments but the optimism should be premised on the role of other CEPGL stakeholders. The Summit of Heads of State, as well as the Council of Ministers are critical.”

The meeting was a culmination of a series of bilateral parliamentary diplomatic missions championed by the Congolese and Rwandan lawmakers earlier this year.

Within the institutional framework, the lawmakers have called for the Summit of Heads of State and regular meetings of the Council of Ministers in order to find solutions to CEPGL problems.

They have also urged governments and all specialised structures to regularly fulfill their commitments and financial obligations in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the bloc.

The lawmakers pledged to advocate for common projects to be prioritised at national level to reduce trade barriers.

They committed to pushing their governments to implement institutional and tax reforms to ensure the sustainability of investments.

CEPGL finance ministers will be required to meet regularly to consider the state of affairs of the three countries’ joint development bank, Banque de Développement des Etats des Grands Lacs (BDEGL), and issues hampering SINELAC, the energy development arm of the bloc.

The implementation of mutual projects has stalled due to political instabilities. The Lawmakers agreed to hold tripartite meeting twice a year as part of the monitoring and evaluation of CEPGL activities. Their next meeting will be held in Bujumbura in June, 2014.

Meeting in Kigali, in March 2011, the heads of Parliament from CEPGL countries urged their governments to form a joint military force to curb insurgencies in the region but this never materialised.

In January 2011, the CEPGL Chiefs of Defence Staff (CDS) met in Kigali and called for strengthening of collaboration on defence and security matters.

At the time, military commanders acknowledged that the region was ridden with several armed groups, including the genocidal forces–ex-FAR/Interahamwe – and a myriad of other armed groups.

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