BRAZZAVILLE, CONGO: On 8 May 2019, the Bureau of the Lusaka Agreement Governing Council held its ordinary session at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Headquarters in Brazzaville, Congo. The meeting considered and adopted recommendations by the experts session, held a day earlier, in a ceremony graced by the Hon. Dr. Rosalie Matondo, Minister of Forest Economy of the Republic of Congo,Dr. Susan J. Koech, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife of the Republic of Kenya representing the Vice President of the Governing Council and Mr. Andrew Chomba, the representative of the Minister for Tourism and Arts of the Republic of Zambia who is also serving as the President of the 12th Governing Council. The meeting was also graced by the Ambassador of Kenya to Congo, DRC, Gabon and CAR His Excellency Dr. George Masafu.

The Bureau specifically commended LATF for its achievements in forging closer collaboration with partners and specifically in securing funding to support regional events on capacity building and Wildlife Directors Forums in the five regions of Africa. They were happy to note that the capacity building programs and wildlife Directors Forums will enhance cooperation and networking among Africa’s wildlife authorities to combat poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the African region. More importantly they indicated that these activities will enhance the profile and visibility of the Lusaka Agreement as a regional body that is championing the fight against transnational organized wildlife crime in Africa and beyond. The meeting recognized and thanked the European Union through ENACT for providing the requisite funding support to facilitate these events that began successfully in the SADC region at end of February 2019 in Livingstone, Zambia.

Speaking during the Bureau meeting, Honourable Rosalie Matondo reiterated the need for Parties to Lusaka Agreement to continue to support the Lusaka Agreement as an integral mechanism for fostering cooperation in the fight against transnational organised wildlife crime in Africa, prevent security risks associated with wildlife crime such as money laundering and diversion of proceeds to criminals and terrorists.

Dr. Susan J. Koech called upon Parties to Lusaka Agreement to once again make the Lusaka Agreement Task Force a vibrant organisation at the forefront in coordinating member states to fight wildlife crime.

Mr. Andrew Chomba Eldred exhorted member states to heighten their support to the Lusaka Agreement Task Force given the important role it plays in assisting countries to effectively combat cross-border wildlife crime and urged them to timely meet their obligations as they explore other avenues of resourcing the Lusaka Agreement.

Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the Lusaka Agreement and especially lend support to enhance its profile and mandate to undertake cross border enforcement operations. They confirmed/formally appointed Mr. Edward Phiri as Director giving him a fresh mandate to ensure that LATF continues to reach out to other African countries in its strive to expand the treaty’s membership.

Among other decisions, the meeting adopted LATF’s Reports and Programme of Work and Budget for the financial year 2019/2020 and also urged Parties to expedite secondment of officers to the Lusaka Agreement Task Force.