, NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 2 – President Mwai Kibaki has said development and prosperity of any nation is dependent on peace and stability.
In this regard, he commended visiting President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi for accepting to constructively engage and conclude a peace agreement with the former rebel movement, the Forces for National Liberation.
"In this connection, I assure you of Kenya’s support for the people and Government of Burundi as they embark on rebuilding their country," he said during a State Banquet in honour of the visiting Head of State.
He added: "Kenya is fully aware that the post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Burundi demand the collective engagement and support of all states as well as the international community."
President Kibaki expressed appreciation on the progress made at the inaugural session of the Kenya-Burundi Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation which has been meeting in Nairobi for the last two days.
He said that the Joint Commission framework also facilitates enhanced collaboration in a wide range of fields which include agriculture and livestock, education, science and technology; trade, investment and health.
"Earlier today, I held extensive discussions with Your Excellency on how we can enhance our bilateral cooperation in the spirit of the East African vision of shared prosperity. We both agreed that the Joint Permanent Commission provides a good opportunity for deepening our engagement for the mutual benefit of our peoples," President Kibaki said.
Expressing Kenya’s commitment to broaden and strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations President Kibaki said the Republic of Burundi was positioned to benefit substantially from her accession to the East African Community.
President Kibaki further said Kenya would make its institutions of higher learning available to Burundi nationals to help in overcoming a language barrier through training in English and Swahili so as to fast track the East African regional integration.
He further said the information generated from a team of Kenyan officials drawn from various Government ministries and agencies who undertook a market survey of Burundi last year on viable investment opportunities had been disseminated to investors and stakeholders.
The President added that the Kenya Government is also working on modalities to put in place a favourable business environment that would promote enhanced trade and cooperation between Kenya and Burundi while at the same time encouraging East African integration.
President Kibaki pointed out that in the spirit of East African Community, Kenya had stepped up measures to rehabilitate the Northern Corridor Transit system and instituted measures to eradicate non-tariff barriers to trade with emphasis on reduction of weigh bridges and police road blocks.
"We have also introduced a 24-hour operation at the Port of Mombasa, which has greatly reduced delays in clearance of transit goods. We believe this will help increase trade in our region, and Burundi will be greatly advantaged," the President said.
The Head of State also observed that the ratification and eventual application of the EAC Common Market Protocol will help eradicate the existing bottlenecks in the regional trade and investment.
Said the President: "The Republic of Burundi is positioned to benefit substantially from her accession to the East African Community. These gains can best be consolidated in an environment of peace and tranquillity. Consequently, the envisaged political integration for the East Africa Community will facilitate allocation of resources for speedy economic growth and development."
President Kibaki commended Burundi for its commitment to regional peace and security as exemplified by its decision to deploy 1,590 troops as part of the African Union peacekeeping mission to Somalia.
He said despite its own internal challenges, Burundi had made great sacrifices in helping restore peace and security in Somalia saying the move will always be remembered by all peace loving nations.
Once again the president condemned the terrorist attack on African Union peace keepers in Somalia in which 15 Burundian troops were killed in February this year, saying Kenya takes pride on the Burundian troops who have refused to be intimidated and are still carrying out service to humanity in Somalia.
The Burundian Leader in his address thanked President Kibaki, the People of Kenya and the international community for supporting his country in her peace and reconciliation initiatives.
President Nkurunziza said time was ripe for Africa to put in place home-based structures to resolve conflicts that threatened stability in the continent.
The visiting President invited Kenyan investors to Burundi saying his Government had provided the necessary conducive atmosphere to do business in the Country.