Uganda, Burundi agree to deepen cooperation

President Museveni and Burundian president Evariste Ndayishimiye wave to officials at State House, Entebbe. PHOTO | PPU

What you need to know:

The countries agreed to work together on transport and communication, defence and security, education, culture and sports.

President Museveni and his Burundian counterpart, Mr Evariste Ndayishimiye, have agreed to strengthen cooperation on agriculture, energy, trade, health, finance, tourism, and investment.

 State House last evening said the two leaders after meeting at State House to commemorate Mr Ndayishimiye’s two-day state visit, which ended yesterday, committed to work together on transport and communication, defence and security, education, culture, and sports.

 “In this regard, they directed their respective ministers to ensure that implementation of existing agreements, memoranda of understanding and other frameworks of cooperation, is fast-tracked,” a joint communique signed by Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kuteesa and his Burundian counterpart Ambassador Albert Shingiro, read in part.  

The two leaders congratulated each other for winning elections last and this year and President Ndayishimiye commended Mr Museveni for his efforts as a guarantor of the Arusha Peace Accord and a mediator on Burundi dialogue.

 President Museveni and his guest, who attended the former’s inauguration for a sixth elective term on Wednesday, promised to boost the relationship between the two countries by canvassing respective private sectors to lead identification of opportunities for trade and investment.

 They committed to upgrade inter-linking roads to improve connectivity and reduce transportation costs.

 Uganda Airlines, which started operations last year, has already started direct flights between Entebbe and Bujumbura, cutting travel time and boosting trade, tourism and investment.

 The two presidents, according to the joint communique, directed their respective Foreign Affairs to convene a meeting of the third session of the Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) and a Joint Business Forum within the next six months.

In addition, the presidents agreed to deepen integration in the East African Community, currently challenged by frosty relations between some member states, and the wider African Union. 

 They welcomed the January 1 entry into force of the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), which they hope will help boost African trade, development of value chains and integration.

 They also commended the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) for its role in pacifying the country, including the fight against terrorist groups. They called upon the international community to continue supporting the Somalia in building its institutions, especially the national army, to ensure that the progress and gains made are consolidated.

 The leaders also asked Africa to always speak with one voice on international matters such as climate change, fight against terrorism, the reform of the United Nations Security Council, international migration and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals.

 According to the communique, the two leaders exhorted Burundi’s partners to lift sanctions imposed since 2015 in order to boost the country’s socio-economic development.