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Bujumbura, Monday, March 20, 2017: COMESA Secretariat has taken the first preparatory steps towards the hosting of the 20th Heads of State and Government Summit in Burundi in October this year.

A team of eight COMESA Secretariat officials led by the acting Director of Human Resources and Administration Mrs Martha Elimu was in Bujumbura for four days, friday 17 March to meet with government officials and assess the suitable venues for the Summit and related logistical issues.

The team met with the Speaker of the Burundi National Assembly H.E Pascal Nyabenda, the Chief of Protocol in the office of the President Ambassador Zephirin Manirakiza, the Director of Commerce at the Ministry of Trade Mr Sebastien Nzimana and representatives of the private sector.

The offer to host the COMESA Summit was made by His Excellency President Pierre Nkurunziza in September 2016 during a meeting with the Secretary General of COMESA Sindiso Ngwenya. In October 2016, at the 19th COMESA Summit in Madagascar, Burundi was elected Vice-Chair of COMESA Authority of the Heads of State, thus endorsing the country as the next host and subsequent chair.

The Speaker reaffirmed his government’s commitment to host the COMESA Summit in the country for the first time.

Ambassador Manirakiza said: “We are very happy that you are here to kick start this process of Burundi hosting the COMESA annual meetings and we assure you of our commitment and dedication to ensure that the meetings are held without any flaws.”

Head of COMESA delegation expressed satisfaction with Burundi’s commitment to host the Summit in October this year.

“We are confident that your government is already engaged to ensure that a successful paperless Summit and Policy Organs meetings are held on the agreed dates,” Mrs Elimu said.

Both teams visited potential venues for the Summit and discussed key issues pertinent in hosting the Summit such as meeting venues, accommodation, security, transport and the Host Agreement.

 

The summit brings together Heads of States and Governments, Ministers and high level government officials, the private sector who also participate in the COMESA Business Forum, development partners, First Ladies, members of the diplomatic community and regional and international organizations among others.

Madagascar is the current chair of COMESA and will hand over to Burundi during the 20th Summit.

Burundi has been an active member of COMESA and joined the Free Trade Area in 2004.