The Great Lakes Economic Community, consisting of three neighbouring states in central Africa, has been holding its third summit meeting in Zaire.
The Great Lakes Economic Community, consisting of three neighbouring states in central Africa, has been holding its third summit meeting in Zaire. Taking part were the head of state of Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi. Their venue was Lubumbashi, the capital of Shaba Province in Zaire.
SYNOPSIS: The President of Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko, waits on the tarmac of Lubumbashi airport, and dancers cavort, as Burundi's President Jean Baptiste Bagaza flies in on Sunday (9 December). The aim of the two-day meeting was to advance political and economic co-operation inside their organisation.
President Mobutu has spent much of the past six months in Shaba province, a stay intended to reassure expatriates needed to run the mining industry, of his control there.
The host leader shakes hands with his second guest, President Juvenal Habarimana of Rwanda. Just before this summit, the foreign ministers of the three countries had also met here. These three leaders have acknowledged they must cooperate closely to create conditions that will lead to genuine economic development.
The conference hall, where tight security, needed in a province with active rebel forces, contrasted with vivid dancers. President Mobutu, in the past three years, has twice had to put down rebel invasions in Shaba province.
The Great Lakes Economic Community is in line with similar groupings that have been established among a growing number of African countries whose leaders see such unity as the key to economic development. Member countries believe that, inside these groupings, their individual and collective interests are better discussed and protected.
To enhance their economic growth, the groups have singed co-operative agreements with strong industrial nations -- such as the United States, France and Belgium -- and with international organisations, including the European Economic Community.