The heads of state of three African countries in the Great Lakes Economic Community - Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi - have held their first meeting.
The heads of state of three African countries in the Great Lakes Economic Community - Zaire, Rwanda and Burundi - have held their first meeting. They gathered in Bukawu, Zaire, to ratify several working aspects of the Community, which was formed in September.
SYNOPSIS: The leaders at the meeting were President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza of Burundi, President Juvenal Habyalimana of Rwanda and President Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire. The three countries decided in May. 1975 to form the Community - the CEPGL - and a permanent committee was then set up to prepare for its formation, pending approval by the three heads of state.
The objective of Saturday's meeting was the security of the three nations' frontiers and the creation of common activities to promote trade and the free circulation of goods and people between them. It was also aimed at reorganizing their customs activities to eradicate artificial barriers left over from colonial days.
After their meeting, all three presidents spoke to a gathered crowd and explained the ideals, aims and objectives of the Community, and told the crowd that they, the people, would be the first to benefit from the new detente between the three nations.
The new Community's constitution provides for regular meetings of the heads of state. At their meeting they appointed Mr. Bonaventure Kidwingira of Burundi as Permanent Executive Secretary of the Community.
President Mobutu, Bagaza and Habyalimana also signed a communique ratifying their talks on the implementation of the Community's institutions. This included giving its Council of Ministers - the Community's central body - authority to decide on the organisation's annual budget.