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CEPGEL remains less productive, heavily indebted-Min Mushikiwabo

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By GLV Reporter.

KIGALI – Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo has been the first minister to come straight about an embattled sub-regional bloc when she told the parliament that the Economic Community for the Great Lakes Region (CEPGL) needs to undergo serious changes in order to fulfill its mandate.

Mushikiwabo made the remarks while appearing before the Senate to answer queries on the regional body’s integration process.

CEPGEL brings together Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“CEPGEL is crawling due to a number of factors, including the poor mindset among the Secretariat’s staff and the 10 years of its passive existence following regional instabilities.”

Mushikiwabo, who believes that the organization is very important to all member countries in terms of economic, security, and other areas of development, said that the efforts to revamp the organization started three years ago, following meetings between Heads of State, ministers and other officials as the Belgian government in 2010 agreed to help in the reform.

Last year, CEPGEL sacked the Burundian executive secretary who was accused by DR Congo of causing financial pressure on Kinshasa and exposing DR Congo to the media about their failure to honor the annual contribution.

“There is a will among all the three members to see the bloc progress, but its institutions are still poorly organized, less productive and heavily indebted,” Mushikiwabo said. According to Mushikiwabo, following last year’s meeting, it was learned that the staff at the Secretariat were only concerned by their personal financial benefits rather than the interests of the organization. “This is dangerous,” she said.

“Given the problems recorded, we agreed to the restructuring of CEPGL and its institutions, and possibly reshuffle it right from scratch. This is among the tasks assigned to the auditing team,” she said. The Minister noted that the Secretariat already has a new Executive Secretary.

Meanwhile, it was disclosed that, of all the three members, only Rwanda had honored its financial commitments while the DRC had the biggest debt.

However, the minister told the Senate that Rwanda has suggested increased political dialogue as the best way to forge a brighter future for the organization.

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