By Azania Post Reporter, just back from Bujumbura
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa-COMESA is a regional organization that counts 19-African member states.
The 19th COMESA Summit was held in Madagascar back on 20th October 2016.
COMESA elects a new chairing country every year on a rotational basis and it was decided by the previous summit in 2016 that Burundi was next to chair the next summit in 2017.
Initially, the 20th COMESA Summit was scheduled for October 2017 in Burundi. The COMESA Secretary General SINDISO N. NGENYA who is supposed to step down after his 2 mandates as SG during the 2017 COMESA Summit, attempted and failed to relocate to Lusaka, Zambia the same summit back in June 2017 stating that Burundi did not have the accommodation and logistic capacity to host the COMESA Summit.
After months of diplomatic negotiations between Bujumbura and Lusaka, COMESA Secretariat finally confirmed late 2016, that Burundi has all the accommodation and logistical capacity to host the 20th COMESA Summit. At the time, it was suggested that the summit would be held in February 2018 in Burundi but due to time constraints, it was agreed by all stakeholders that the Summit be held 9th to 19th April 2018 in Burundi.
On 10th February 2018, SG SINDISO writes a second time suggesting that the 20th COMESA Summit be pushed back to 1st up to 10th June 2019 as the April dates would collide with the Commonwealth Summit in the UK preventing many heads of states to attend the summit in Burundi.
Somalia and Tunisia will be joining the COMESA authority increasing the number of COMESA members states to 21.
As we speak, Burundi is fully prepared to host the 20th COMESA Summit between 1st up to 10th June 2018. (See pictures)
Burundi ready to host COMESA Summit on 1st June 2018
All official invitations have been sent to COMESA Heads of states, first ladies, ministers and delegates by the current chairing state Madagascar, by the future chairing member state Burundi as well as by the COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka, Zambia.
Burundi Government has already received attendance confirmation from several heads of states, a Vice-president, many ministers, foreign ambassadors as well as the Deputy Executive Secretary (Corporate Affairs) of SADC, Ms. Emilie Ayaza Mushobekwa and many more high-level delegates.
Bujumbura city center is currently fully branded with the colors of COMESA and advertising of the 20th COMESA Summit scheduled for 1st up to 10th June 2018 is ongoing in local and regional media.
Are foreign forces trying to prevent Burundi from hosting the 2018 COMESA Summit?
All starts Friday, May 11th, 2018 when the small town of Ruhagarika in Cibitoke province located a few meters away from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) border wakes up to an armed gun attack by unidentified rebels who 26 innocent and wounded many more before escaping to nearby DRC.
After attending the burial ceremony in Ruhagarika on May 16th, 2018 and holding several interviews with the local population, many seem heavily convinced that the attack was organized by neighboring country, Rwanda.
The second act of this captivating and complex play develops the COMESA Secretary General Sindiso N. Ngwenya surprise and unannounced visit to Burundi and Madagascar on Tuesday, May 15th, 2018. It is on an early morning flight that SG Sindiso lands at Bujumbura International Airport without going through official protocol procedures.
During his short meeting with representatives of the local COMESA Summit organizing committee, the SG informs them the Summit scheduled for 1st June 2018 might be postponed once again.
In his vague and uncertain attempt to explain why SG Sindiso explains that the security situation on Madagascar that won’t allow for Madagascar President to travel to Burundi in June.
Not even taking time to leave Bujumbura International Airport, he boards the first flight to Madagascar. No official source can confirm the content and purpose behind these two visits, but one can believe that SG Sindiso might have told Madagascar the opposite that Burundi is unsafe making it difficult to hold the Summit in Burundi following the Cibitoke attack. Classic, “Divide and Rule”.
The third twist of the story is unveiled Thursday, May 17th, 2018 same day as the Referendum in Burundi. Ms. Sandra Uwera, CEO of the COMESA Business Council writes to her Burundi counterpart informing them that the 20th COMESA Summit to be held in Burundi 1st to 10th June 2018 has been postponed to a date in July 2018 and will be relocated to Lusaka, Zambia instead of Burundi.
Procedures call for the current chair of the COMESA Authority (President of Madagascar) to first write officially to announce the change followed by the COMESA Secretariat for the implementation of the decision from the chair.
One then wonders, why does the COMESA Business Council write to Burundi before other higher ranked COMESA organs? Does that fact that Ms. Uwera happens to be a Rwandese national have anything to do with it?
To crown it all, Mr. Vital Nshimirimana, a well-known Burundian terrorist who fled Burundi after his involvement in the failed 2015 military coup that tried to overthrow President Pierre Nkurunziza, was the first one to tweet at about the same time as Ms. Uwera sent her letter to Burundi, confirming that the 20th COMESA Summit will be postponed and held in Lusaka instead of Bujumbura. It is also believed that Mr. Nshimirimana is currently living in Kigali, Rwanda.
As we speak, the official website of the COMESA Secretariat (www.comesa.int) shows that the 20th COMESA Heads of States and Government Summit will take place in the month of July 2018 in Lusaka, Zambia, the Headquarters of the COMESA Secretariat.
However, we tried several times to contact directors or officials of the same institution to get an official document confirming this sudden change of date and venue, but no one seems to have what we are looking for and even less, no one seems ready to make an official comment on the matter.
This story left with so many unanswered and intriguing questions such as:
- Is Rwanda President Kagame funding rebels and using COMESA to sabotage President Pierre Nkurunziza’s efforts to improve the lives of Burundians?
- Is COMESA SG Sindiso continuously trying to postpone the 20th COMESA Summit to avoid stepping down from office?
- Is COMESA SG Sindiso trying, by all means, to hold the 20th COMESA Summit in Lusaka so as to influence the election of his successor?
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