More than 20 lawmakers from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, and Burundi—countries that make up the Economic Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL)—have recommended that the three countries’ leaders meet.
The parliamentarians who met this week in Rubavu, Western Rwanda, said the Heads of State summit would help fast-track the bloc’s development projects.
Leading the Rwandan team was Senator Jean-Damascène Bizimana, Chairperson of the Senate’s standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security.
He said in an interview yesterday that the parliamentarians have already recommended that Congolese President Joseph Kabila call a Heads of State meeting.
The CEPGL leaders’ summit, which normally sets the guidelines for undertaking activities that benefit the bloc’s members, was last held way back in 1992.
After various phases of turmoil in the region, including the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, the community was revived in 2007 with the Congolese president as Chairperson of the leaders’ summit, but CEPGL presidents have never met to provide the required leadership.
“From 2007 up to now, president Kabila has not called for a meeting and we as MPs have agreed to advocate for this meeting to revive and bolster everything we discussed including our numerous development projects,” Bizimana said.
The implementation of joint regional projects in areas that range from peace, security and good governance to energy, communications infrastructure, economic development and agriculture and food security have stalled due to political disagreements and poor coordination.
“The meeting has already realised that this first meeting by CEPGL lawmakers is a very good step in enhancing cooperation and we have noted that such meetings must be held in the future,” Bizimana added.
On Friday morning, Herman Tuyaga, the Executive Secretary of CEPGL, highlighted the status of the joint projects, challenges and solutions as well as potential future projects, and how the meeting could help reinvigorate some of the bloc’s projects that have stalled.
“He indicated that the CEPGL Secretariat indeed has very good projects in all sectors and everyone in the meeting approved them,” Bizimana said.
The lawmakers also examined challenges that the bloc’s current projects face and discussed how to boost joint cross-border development projects that include restoration of hydro power generation on Rusizi falls and building the Burundi-DRC-Rwanda road network.